Gray wolf born in Oregon dies after ‘epic’ California trek

An Oregon-born gray wolf that thrilled biologists when he traveled far south to California was found dead after apparently being hit by a vehicle

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An Oregon-born gray wolf that thrilled biologists as he traveled far south to California was found dead after apparently being hit by a vehicle, authorities said Wednesday.

No malicious intent 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 considered endangered in California, where they were exterminated in the 1920s.

“Before his passing, he was documented to have traveled through the furthest south of California since the wolves returned to the state, which is historically a wolf habitat. The last documented wolf captured far south was in San Bernardino County in 1922,” the department said.

A truck driver reported spotting the dead wolf on Nov. 10 near the town of Lebec in Kern County, about 75 miles (75 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The carcass was located along a dirt road near a frontage parallel to Interstate 5, and a guard 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 Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova found that the wolf had significant tissue trauma to its left hind leg, a dislocated knee and soft tissue trauma to the abdomen.

OR93 was born in 2019 into the White River pack in northern Oregon. He entered California’s Modoc County on January 30, 2021, briefly returned to Oregon, re-entered California on February 4, and headed south.

His last collar transfer was on April 5 from the central coast of San Luis Obispo County. By then, he 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 come to California from other states.

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

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

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