The Shasta Pack
California’s seven gray wolves are missing, according to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle. California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Pete Figura said the wolves, known as the Shasta Pack, could have migrated to a new region with more prey, but that it was unusual for the pack hunters to abandon their breeding grounds.
We’re reasonably confident that last year they did not use the same area as a pack as they did the year before, and we don’t know why,” Figura said. “Why they were not detected anywhere else this past summer we don’t have a clear explanation for.”
The Shasta Pack, which were the first wolf pack to live in California for nearly a century, have not been seen since May 2016. The pack was being monitored in southeastern Siskiyou County, by the CDFW and according to Figura, fresh wold tracks were spotted in late January this year, about 10 miles from the pack’s home in Siskiyou County. He said they’ve collected some scat and are currently awaiting DNA analysis to determine if it belongs to them.
“It could have been a member of the Shasta Pack or a completely different animal. We don’t know at this time,” Figura said.
The Center for Biological Diversity’s West Coast Wolf organizer Amaroq Weiss said she hoped the wolves moved on to different territory instead of being poached. Weiss said wolves in the northern Rockies had been poached in 2010, and a study found that poaching was responsible for 24 percent of wolf mortality within that region. The following year she said three family members were convicted of killing two wolves of the Lookout Pack in Washington state.
“Their poaching activities were uncovered when they tried to ship bloody wolf skins by mail to British Columbia, Canada to be tanned. They claimed to be shipping rugs but a mail clerk became suspicious when he noticed blood seeping from the package,” Weiss said. “I have no specific information to indicate the Shasta pack has been poached, however, I also have no information establishing that these wolves are still alive. (Like Figura said) it is odd that the pack has not been seen anywhere in the region of where they had previously set up a territory, den site and rendezvous sites.”
Weiss said she’s asked around and checked in with numerous people who know ranchers in the general area but no one has reported any sightings of the Shasta Pack. She said another possible outcome would be that the wolves had fallen victim to snares or poison bait traps that were used by ranchers to protect against coyotes.
“California has so few wolves. Those wolves face dire threats like intentional poaching and accidental poisoning or snaring highlights precisely why full state endangered species protections for these magnificent animals must remain in place,” Weiss said.
The Shasta Pack is believed to have killed and eaten a calf in November 2015, the first reported case of livestock predation by wolves since their return to California. That was also the last time the entire pack was known to be together. Figura said he has no evidence to suggest the wolves were killed in retaliation. Source
Feature image Shasta Pack