After an almost century-long absence, a pack of gray wolves have been found in California. A surveillance camera captured footage of the animals near Mt. Shasta on August 9.
The father of the pack, known as the Shasta Pack, was originally seen in May, and was thought to be a lone wolf. However, the sighting revealed that he belonged to a family. The Shasta Pack has two adult gray wolves (male and female) and five pups, all about four months old and at a healthy weight of 40 pounds. State officials will not be disclosing the specific location of the sighting due to fear that some might try to find the animals, either out of curiosity or to harm them.
Gray wolves were hunted almost to extinction, but began to make a comeback 20 years ago, when they were reintroduced to Wyoming and Idaho as a protected animal. Since then, they have made their way to Oregon, and now down into California.
Gray wolves were added to California’s endangered species list in 2014, meaning anyone who harms them risks prison time and fines. A new wolf management plan will be drafted and implemented to reflect the presence of the Shasta pack.
Environmentalists and ecologists hope that the wolves will help balance the deer and small prey populations in the Shasta area.