In response to a petition from EPIC and allies, the California Department of Fish and Game recommended that the Fish and Game Commission make the gray wolf a candidate for protection under the California Endangered Species Act. The Commission will vote on Fish and Game’s recommendation in early October.
At this time neither the United States Fish and Wildlife Service nor the California Department of Fish and Game have developed a recovery plan for wolves in California. Such a plan would specify management actions needed to protect and recover the species and establish population targets.
“California has extensive areas of suitable habitat for wolves. For instance, large wilderness areas such as the Marble Mountains and the Trinity Alps, as well as remote backcountry areas around Lassen and Mt. Shasta, have high potential to support wolves,” said Andrew Orahoske, Conservation Director for EPIC. “Furthermore, once re-established in northern California, wolves could feasibly repopulate the Sierra Nevada, which contains a large amount of suitable habitat in its own right.”
The decision from Fish and Game comes as OR-7 — the first wolf in California in more than 80 years — continues to roam Northern California, and as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service consider removing federal Endangered Species Act protections. The feds have stated that it intends to remove this protection, casting doubt on the long-term recovery prospects for the wolf.
This week, EPIC and other conservation groups asked President Obama to keep the western population of Northwest’s gray wolves on the endangered species list.