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A new gray wolf pack is found 200 miles south of California's nearest-known pack

A gray wolf is seen in the Sequoia National Forest.
Michelle Harris, Samantha Winiecki-Love, Ryan Slezak and Colibri Ecological Consulting
via the California Department of Fiash and WIldlife
A gray wolf is seen in the Sequoia National Forest.

California wildlife officials say they've confirmed a new gray wolf pack in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday the pack was found in Tulare County — the farthest south a pack of wolves has been detected in the state in more than a century.

In July, the department had received reports of wolf sighting in the Sequoia National Forest, roughly 200 miles south of the nearest-known pack in northeastern California.

CDFW visited the area and found tracks, scat and hair, and their DNA analysis found that all 12 collected samples came from gray wolves. The analysis found the new pack has at least five female wolves not previously detected in California.

One of the wolves is a direct descendant of OR7, a wolf that crossed into California in 2011, becoming the first detected in nearly a century to cross into the state from Oregon before returning.

Gray wolves used to roam most of North America before being hunted, trapped and driven out of most of the continental U.S. by the early 1900s.

But wolves have been making a slow comeback in many western states, including California, which has at least three confirmed packs mostly in the state's far north.

Wolves remain protected federally by the Endangered Species Act.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.