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Wildlife officials find gray wolves in Tulare County — 200 miles south of nearest pack

A female gray wolf lays in a forest after being fitted with a satellite tracking collar.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
A female gray wolf after being fitted with a satellite tracking collar in Lassen County in June 2020.

FRESNO, Calif. — A pack of rare gray wolves has been found in Tulare County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced on Friday.

The new discovery means the wolves are the most southern pack known in the state —more than 200 miles from the nearest pack.

There are at least five of them: one adult female and four offspring, including two boys and two girls.

In July, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife got word of a sighting in Sequoia National Forest.

Officials canvassed the area and found wolf tracks as well as collected samples of hair and scat for a DNA analysis.

The state’s Wildlife Forensic Laboratory is able to determine the sex and coat color of wolves, as well as their relation to one another and different packs.

Test results for the wolves in Tulare County show that the mom is a direct descendent of a wolf called OR7 — the first wolf in nearly a century to return to California.

Around the 1920’s the wolves were extirpated in the state. But, in 2011 OR7 reversed course and crossed into California from Oregon, making it the first known wolf to return to the state in almost 100 years.

Gray wolves are native to California and protected by state and federal laws.

A Valley native, Elizabeth earned her bachelor's degree in English Language Literatures from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her master's degree in journalism from New York University. She has covered a range of beats. Her agriculture reporting for the Turlock Journal earned her a first place award from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. While in graduate school she covered the New Hampshire Primary for NBC Owned Television Stations and subsequently worked as a television ratings analyst for the company's business news network, CNBC. Upon returning to California, her role as a higher education public relations professional reconnected her to the Valley's media scene. She is happy to be back to her journalism roots as a local host at KVPR.