The California department of fish and wildlife has successfully captured two gray wolves in Siskiyou county following efforts to collar the wolves, which began in February.
One of the captured wolves was a yearling male from the 2021 litter of the Whaleback Pack, while the other was a four-year-old male named OR85, who had dispersed from his pack in 2020 and denned with a female wolf to form the Whaleback Pack. Two litters were born to the pack, producing seven and eight pups in the last two years.
Using a contracted helicopter, capture crew, and fixed-wing aircraft from CDFW’s Air Services Unit, capture teams were able to locate the wolves through intermittent signals coming from OR85’s original collar, which was thought to be non-functioning. The teams removed that original collar and replaced it with a new unit. The capture and collar effort marks the first time CDFW has used helicopters to capture and collar gray wolves.
In addition to fitting the wolves with satellite collars, the capture teams also measured and sampled them for DNA and disease surveillance before safely releasing them. The satellite collars will transmit four new locations to CDFW each morning under optimal conditions.
Senior environmental scientist and CDFW’s wolf specialist, Kent Laudon, expressed excitement about the new collars and data. He stated, “We’re already seeing interesting movements on agriculture lands and sharing that information with local folks to install fladry and other deterrent measures around cattle pastures.” As confirmed by the CDFW, Siskiyou county has already had nearly a dozen wolf kills on local producers’ livestock.
Additional ground capture attempts to collar more wolves will resume later this spring.