Archive for August, 2018

California Gray Wolf Update 2018

Thursday, August 9th, 2018
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The Lassen Pack has grown! Up to five pups, two confirmed, were born this spring. The wolf family now includes the new puppies, three yearlings and the alpha pair. The pair was first spotted traveling together in 2016. The alpha male (CA08M) is now four years old. He is the son of famous OR-7 of the Rouge Pack. Genetics of the alpha female (LAS01F) indicate she may have traveled from Idaho. In June 2017 she was captured and fit with a GPS collar weighing in at seventy-five pounds. Surveys for the pup count are ongoing.


California’s first wolf pack, the seven-member all black Shasta Pack was established in Siskiyou County in 2015. Later that year, the pack seemed to have vanished and it was thought they had all been illegally killed. That is until May 2016, when a yearling male (CA07M) was detected near several pup-rearing sites the pack had used in 2015. In November of 2016, the young wolf was then spotted just west of the Black Rock Desert. He was the first confirmed wolf in Nevada since 1922. It is suspected that he is the lone black wolf that’s been observed within the Lassen Pack territory.


While the Rogue Pack territory is in southern Oregon, it deserves an honorable mention. The nine-year old alpha male, OR-7 was born into the Imnaha Pack in 2009. He was the first confirmed wolf in the Golden State in nearly 100 years. In 2011 and 2013 he roamed over 4000 miles before eventually finding a mate and establishing a territory in 2013. The Rouge Pack has had successful litters for four years in a row; at least four of his progeny have been detected in California this year and last.

OR 54 of the Rogue Pack

In January and February, another of OR-7’s daughters, OR-54 traveled over 500 miles through four California counties before returning to her pack. She covered much of the same ground her famous father did from 2011 to 2013. She roamed back to California April 15 and by the end of June she traveled through Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Plumas, Sierra, and Nevada counties, covering nearly 750 miles in 76 days. OR-54 is now only two-years old and she weighed 83 pounds when she was collared in October 2017. In June, she was spotted a mile away from Interstate 80 just north of Lake Tahoe.

OR-44 entered California this year in March. He is a two-year old male that dispersed from northeastern Oregon’s Chesnimnus Pack in fall 2017. The battery on his radio collar is no longer working. Between March and the end of May the young male wolf traveled a minimum of 450 miles between Siskiyou and Del Norte Counties.

There is evidence of other dispersing wolves currently roaming the golden state. Gray wolves in California are listed under both the federal and state Endangered Species Act. Recovery of canis lupis will greatly depend on the ability of people to accept living with wolves.


Green Diamond HCP

Thursday, August 9th, 2018
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Green Diamond’s Clearcuts in Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Baker.

Green Diamond does it again! The company has gotten another sweetheart deal that allows them to clearcut with impunity, once again proving that the rules don’t apply to the big boys. Previously we reported on a deal struck with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that would exempt the company from protections for the Humboldt marten. Today’s story is similar: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just released a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that would allow Green Diamond to clearcut more northern spotted owl habitat than otherwise permitted in exchange for a promise to shoot barred owls. We think this deal stinks. Here’s why:

Green Diamond is currently operating under an older HCP for owls, approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1992. Under that HCP, Green Diamond set up a series of 40 “reserves,” no-cut areas set aside for the benefit of the owl, totaling 13,243 acres and ranging from approximately 60 to 2,000 acres each. The set-asides were designed to be large enough to support multiple pairs of owls and were spread out across Green Diamond’s ownership.

Under the new HCP, the set-asides disappear in favor of a “dynamic” reserve system. Under the dynamic reserve system, the company will “protect” 44 owl nest sites, but just barely. The company will set aside 89 acres of forest around individual nest sites that are at minimum 46 years old and 233 total acres within .5 miles of the nest that are at least 31 years old.

You might think, “at least they have agreed to protect some habitat. Surely that’s better than nothing!” Sorry pal, you are mistaken. Absent the HCP, Green Diamond would presumably have to follow take avoidance guidance established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for THPs in the redwood region. That take avoidance guidance would preserve 500 total acres of habitat within .7 miles of a nest site, including the 100 acres of the highest quality habitat near the nest site. In other words, we would preserve more habitat for owls if we did nothing and Green Diamond had to follow the law that everyone else is bound by.

A Habitat Conservation Plan is supposed to be what the name suggests: a plan to conserve habitat. Congress created these plans to incentivize landowners with protected species to manage their land to provide additional benefit to the species. In exchange, the landowner would be permitted to incidentally “take” (that is, kill, harm, harass, etc.) protected species. Here, there’s no habitat value added.

Why did the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agree to this? Green Diamond has agreed to kill barred owls on their property. Barred owls are a problem for our spotties and a limited experiment on Green Diamond land has shown that barred owl removal can help reestablish owl sites abandoned to barred owls. But is this deal enough? Under the worst case scenario, Green Diamond’s poor habitat retention would allow the number of owl sites to shrink from 196 sites to just 47.

The northern spotted owl is going extinct before our eyes. The rate of owl decline is increasing and in some areas, the owl has entered an “extinction vortex,” whereby owl declines reinforce processes that further hasten the owl’s decline, leading ultimately to its total extinction.

EPIC is on the case. We are drafting comments right now on the HCP and are mobilizing our legal and biological experts to help. This special treatment for Green Diamond has to end.


Martens Need Your Support August 23 in Fortuna!

Thursday, August 9th, 2018
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Humboldt Marten caught on trail camera. Photo by Mark Linnell U.S. Forest Service.

Take Action Now! The Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended that the Humboldt marten be listed as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act. This is huge news and the culmination of over three years of work by EPIC. (Phew!)

But it ain’t over yet! The California Fish and Game Commission will make the final decision on Thursday, August 23rd at their meeting in Fortuna. EPIC expects that the timber industry will be out in full force to oppose the listing of the marten. We need to show the Commission that the people stand behind saving the Humboldt marten and support science-based decision-making!

Two ways you can help:

  1. Send the Commission a letter!

Click here to send a quick letter to the Commission showing your support for our Humboldt marten. *Bonus points: forward this email to your friends and urge them to sign too! You’ll be doing the marten a BIG favor. 

  1. Show your support in person!

The Fish and Game Commission will be meeting from 3-6pm at the River Lodge in Fortuna on Thursday, August 23rd to decide the marten’s fate. Given that this is in EPIC’s own backyard, let’s draw a crowd! Come to the commission and testify in favor of our Humboldt martens. More details are here.

Want to make a sign and educate yourself about the marten? EPIC is throwing a sign making potluck party Wednesday, August 22nd from 6-9pm. Come meet fellow wildlife enthusiasts, eat some delicious food, and make a cute sign.

For more on the marten, check out our website.