First known Gray wolf visits Nevada County
(for OR-54, Nevada County’s first wolf, June 2018)
She must have been able to hear the rumble
of eighteen wheelers pulling grade on 80,
seen the careless winter scars on Boreal Ridge.
She came, stayed a while, trotted back north.
But if ponderosa and incense-cedar ascend
again toward once-was, expect her noisy pups,
or theirs, will bring bright teeth and amber eyes
southward to snap up voles and brush rabbits,
rewriting what placer hoses and insistent axes
inscribed across the hills. Her furred stewards
will keep the deer strong and beavers careful,
will reletter the living air with a long new music.
— Bill Noble (Sierra Sun reader)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported this week that a gray wolf visited Nevada County on Friday, the first known visit of a gray wolf to this area. The two-year-old female, referred to as OR-54, has since returned north to Sierra County.
The wolf is collared with a GPS transmitter, which allowed Fish and Wildlife to locate her a mile and a half from Interstate 80 near Boreal Mountain.
Officials believe that she is an offspring of OR-7, a wolf that is a native of Oregon but made history in December 2011 for being the first gray wolf to cross into California in decades.
“The pack that she’s from either got too large or she was looking for more food,” said Chris De Nijs, agricultural commissioner for Nevada County, noting that there may be a variety of other reasons OR-54 left her pack. “It’s unknown why she’s dispersing from the pack but they’ve been known to do that.”
According to Kent Laudon, a wolf specialist with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, this is the second time the same wolf has visited Northern California from Oregon, last being spotted by a resident outside of Chester.
De Nijs said that due to the wolves’ status as an endangered species it is illegal to hunt or harass them. He recommended keeping a safe distance and reporting the wolf to California Department of Fish and Wildlife if spotted.
According to the department website “wolves rarely pose a direct threat to human safety,” and anyone who encounters one should “never approach, feed or otherwise tamper with a wolf.
“If you have a close encounter with a wolf or wolves, do not run. Maintain eye contact. Act aggressively, make noise while retreating slowly. If the wolf does not retreat, continue acting aggressively by yelling or throwing objects,” the website reads.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.