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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Oregon-born gray wolf dies after ‘epic’ walk through California

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An Oregon-born gray wolf who thrilled biologists while traveling to Southern California was found dead after he was apparently hit by a vehicle.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – An Oregon-born gray wolf who thrilled biologists while traveling to Southern California was found dead after he was apparently struck by a vehicle, authorities said Wednesday.

No dirty act was suspected in the death of the male wolf known as OR93, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a press release. Gray wolves are classified as endangered in California, where they were exterminated in the 1920s.

“Before his death, it was documented that he had traveled further to Southern California since the wolves returned to the state, which is historically the habitat of wolves. The last documented wolf found in the far south was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922, ”the department said.

A truck driver reported seeing the dead wolf Nov. 10 near Lebec City in Kern County, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The body was located along a dirt trail near a minor highway that runs parallel to Interstate 5, and a warden who responded quickly identified the wolf as OR93 because of a radio-tracking collar he was wearing, the department said. .

A necropsy performed at the Rancho Cordova Wildlife Health Laboratory found that the wolf had significant tissue trauma to the left hind leg, a dislocated knee, and soft tissue trauma to the abdomen.

OR93 was born into the White River herd in Northern Oregon in 2019. He went to Modoc County California on January 30, 2021, briefly returned to Oregon, then entered California again on February 4 and headed south.

His last collar transmission was from the central coast San Luis Obispo County on April 5. By then it had traveled at least 935 miles (1,505 kilometers) in California, the wildlife department said.

OR93 was among a small number of gray wolves that have started arriving in California from other states.

“I am devastated to learn of the death of this extraordinary wolf, whose epic journeys through California inspired the world,” Amaroq Weiss, senior advocate for wolves at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

“In this annual time of reflection, I thank you for the hope you gave us and for a brief glimpse of what it would be like for wolves to roam free and wild again,” Weiss said.

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