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Wildlife officials discover new wolf pack in California

CBS News Live
CBS News Sacramento Live

PORTERVILLE - There is a new gray wolf pack in California, wildlife officials say. 

The new Tulare pack was sighted in August and includes an adult female and four offspring (two males and two females), the Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement Thursday. 

Gray wolf OR-7
Gray wolf OR-7 Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlfie

California's gray wolf population vanished in the early 1900s when wolves were being eradicated. In the 2000s, a handful from Canada came into Oregon, and in 2011, an adult male wolf, OR-7, crossed the border into California. The Golden State has since become home to seven known, established packs: Whaleback Pack, Lassen Pack, Beckwourth Pack, and unnamed packs in Lassen, Plumas, Tehama, and Tulare counties. 

"The pack has been sited mostly in the Giant Sequoia National Monument," stated Forest Supervisor Teresa Benson. "The Giant Sequoia National Monument covers over 300,000 acres within Tulare County, 2500 to 9700-foot elevations, and a diverse ecosystem offering the pack abundant room to roam."  

How the wolves affect ecosystems and predator/prey dynamics in the Giant Sequoia National Monument is unknown. Ultimately, if the wolves stay in the area and establish a population, they could affect prey behavior, which may impact plant growth.  Wildlife agencies will monitor the wolves and work with wolf biologists to apply management protection and consideration for this species.

Wolves travel large distances -- up to 12 miles in a single day, and similar to bears and mountain lions, wolves pose a potential threat to livestock, such as cattle permitted to graze in the forest. 

In California, wolves are protected under the California Endangered Species Act. It is prohibited to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill wolves in the state.

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