Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 24, 2023


Amaroq Weiss, (707) 779-9613,

Two New Groups of Wolves Confirmed in Northern California

SAN FRANCISCO— The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported today that two new groups of wolves have been confirmed in northern California — one in Tehama County and the other in western Lassen County. If the department designates each as a pack, they would become the fifth and sixth confirmed wolf packs in the Golden State in 100 years.

“It brings me great joy to see California’s wolves continue to increase in number, aided by the strong state and federal protections here,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves rewild the landscape and that’s good not just for the wolves but for entire ecosystems.”

In March photographs of three wolves in Tehama County were captured on a trail camera on private land. The western Lassen County group was documented on three different occasions during the first quarter of 2023. The department is surveying these areas to determine if either group had pups this year, the sex of each of the groups’ members and whether any of them are related to wolves from California’s known packs.

California has three existing families of wolves: the Lassen pack, which was confirmed in 2017 and ranges across parts of Lassen and Plumas Counties; the Whaleback pack, confirmed in late 2020 and early 2021 and ranges across eastern Siskiyou County; and the Beckwourth pack, confirmed in late spring of 2021 and whose territory is in eastern Plumas County.

Today’s report also included the sad note that a yearling Whaleback pup died after being struck by a vehicle on Highway 97 in January.

Late spring to early summer is when the department can determine if any of these wolf families has denned, signaling the potential for pups to be born. The department will be checking on the reproductive status of the three existing packs as well as that of the two newly confirmed groups.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that these two new groups of wolves will officially become families by having pups of their own,” said Weiss. “I’m also looking forward to the department bestowing these wolf families with pack names to reflect their presence and significance.”


The first wolf in nearly a century to make California part of his range was OR-7, a radio-collared wolf from Oregon that entered California in late 2011. OR-7 traveled across seven northeastern counties in California before returning to southwestern Oregon, where he found a mate and settled down. The original breeding male of the Lassen pack was the offspring of OR-7’s first litter and several others of OR-7’s offspring have also come to California, including the breeding female of the Whaleback pack.

California’s only other known wolf pack in modern times, the Shasta pack, was confirmed in summer 2015 but disappeared a few months later.

The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is native to California but was driven to extinction in the state by the mid-1920s. After OR-7 dispersed from Oregon into California, the Center and allies successfully petitioned the state to fully protect wolves under California’s endangered species act. Wolves are also federally protected in California under the federal Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to intentionally kill any wolves in the state.

Lassen Pack, 2017. Credit. California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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