Wolves Afforded Immediate "Candidate" Status ~ Kicking off a One-year Process
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — California moved one step closer to deciding whether to protect the gray wolf under the California Endangered Species Act, by accepting a petition that had been filed earlier this year. At its October 3rd public meeting, the California Fish & Game Commission (Commission) voted unanimously to accept a petition that had been filed to list the wolf, thus giving the gray wolf immediate status as a "candidate" for listing, and providing the species full state protections until a final decision is made.
A California native driven to extinction nearly 90 years ago, the wolf had been missing from the state's landscape until an adolescent wolf from Oregon, wolf OR-7, also known as "Journey," crossed the state boundary in late December of 2011. OR-7's dispersal into the state kicked off celebratory shouts from wolf supporters and riveted the world, as satellite signals from his radio-collar made it possible for the state wildlife agency in Oregon to track his travels and provide that information to the Commission. The California Department of Fish and Game (Department) has been keeping the public apprised of OR-7's ongoing travels in the northern part of the state with updates posted to its website. The wolf's dispersal into California also kick-started a state listing process after four conservation groups filed a petition with the state to protect this wolf and any subsequent wolf visitors to the state in the future.
Biologist and former attorney Amaroq Weiss, who is the Northern California Representative for the California Wolf Center, gave a presentation at the hearing on behalf of the four petitioning organizations and on behalf of the California Wolf Center. "We are extremely pleased that the Commission accepted the petition and started the next step in the process," said Ms. Weiss. "Ever since Journey wandered into our state, the California Department of Fish and Game has been very proactive in connecting with stakeholders, working out management steps with federal authorities, and keeping County Commissioner, private landowners and the general public apprised of their efforts.
The Department is clearly prepared to take on the role of protecting and recovering this iconic native species. If the Commission, down the road, ends up listing the wolf, it will give the Department the broadest range of tools and measures available under California law to accomplish this task."
In accepting the petition, the Commission not only initiated the next step in the process, it implicitly recognized the wolf as a vibrant part of California's natural history and natural heritage. Californian's who support the return of wolves to the state hope the process continues with a final decision in the coming year for full state protection as a listed species. The Commission had received 7,000 letters from the public in support of accepting the petition, in contrast to the 33 letters received in opposition.
“Californians have spoken loud and clear that we welcome the return of wolves to our state,” said Camilla Fox, Executive Director of Project Coyote and Wildlife Consultant to the Animal Welfare Institute who testified before the Commission on behalf of six organizations. “We commend the California Department of Fish and Game and the Commission for their proactive stance and we stand poised to work with them to promote wolf recovery, increase acceptance, and implement effective strategies that foster coexistence.”
California Wolf Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit wildlife conservation, education and research center committed to increasing public awareness and understanding of the importance of all wildlife by focusing on the history, biology, behavior and ecology of the gray wolf (Canis lupus).
P.O. Box 1389, Julian, CA 92036 tel (619) 234-WOLF fax (760) 888-0333
Project Coyote is a national non-profit organization promoting coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science, and advocacy.
P.O. Box 5007, Larkspur, CA 94977 tel (415) 945-3232
The Animal Welfare Institute is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 to alleviate the suffering caused to animals by humans.
900 Pennsylvania Ave., SE Washington, D.C.
Living with Wolves is dedicated to raising broad public awareness of the truth about wolves, their social nature, their importance to healthy ecosystems, and the threats to their survival.
P.O. Box 896, Sun Valley, Idaho 83353 tel (208)726-3987
Amaroq Weiss, MS, JD - Northern California Representative, California Wolf Center (707) 779-9613 firstname.lastname@example.org
Camilla Fox- Executive Director, Project Coyote, Wildlife Consultant, Animal Welfare Institute & Advisory Board member, Living with Wolves (415) 690-0338 email@example.com