VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reported that a rare gray wolf was spotted in Ventura County, and it may be the same wolf caught on camera near SLO County earlier this year.
Between Sept. 20 and 26, CDFW received three separate reports of a gray wolf with a purple collar in northern Ventura County. CDFW staff responded to the areas where the wolf was seen and located recent wolf tracks.
While no forensic evidence was found to confirm the wolf's identity, CDFW believes it may be wolf OR-93 based on physical descriptions.
OR-93 is a male wolf that was born in 2019. He was fitted with a purple tracking collar by US Fish and Wildlife Services and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon in June 2020.
The collar was monitored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife until it stopped transmitting in April 2021.
While his collar was working, OR-93 was tracked entering Modoc County on Jan. 30, 2021. After briefly returning to Oregon, the wolf re-entered Modoc County on Feb. 4. 20 days later, the wolf reportedly entered Alphine County after passing through portions of Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties.
On Feb. 25, the wolf traveled to Mono County and by mid-March, he was in western Tuolumne County.
In late March, the wolf entered Fresno County and then San Benito County after crossing Highway 99 and Interstate 5.
On April 1, the wolf was in Monterey County and his last collar transmission was from San Luis Obispo County on April 5.
By April 5, CDFW said the wolf had traveled at least 935 air miles in California, clocking a minimum of 16 air miles per day.
CDFW said the trail camera records wildlife as they visit a water trough on a private property. Though the video was from May, the trail camera was not checked until August, when it was given to CDFW.
No one is certain where the wolf is at this time, but, if an opportunity arises, CDFW said it may attempt to capture and re-collar the wolf to continue tracking its journey.
CDFW wants to strongly encourage the public to be aware that the wolf population is growing in California and to know the difference between wolves and the coyote, a much smaller and more common California resident.
Gray wolves are currently listed as endangered based on California's Endangered Species Act. It is against the law to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap or capture gray wolves.
Anyone who believes they have seen a wolf in California can report the sighting to CDFW.
For more information about gray wolves, you can visit the CDFW wolf webpage here.