The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) recently completed its initial evaluation (pdf) of a petition to list the gray wolf (Canis lupus) under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The Center for Biological Diversity, Big Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Information Center, and the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (collectively, Petitioners) submitted a petition for the listing to DFG on March 5, 2012. DFG recommended the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) accept the petition for further consideration, finding that there is sufficient information to indicate that listing the gray wolf under CESA may be warranted.
DFG noted that the petition to list the gray wolf presented "unprecedented" challenges. According to DFG, Petitioners failed to submit any materials referenced in the petition to the Commission or to DFG and, in some instances, failed to present any reference to support a claim. DFG stated that the petition on its face did not provide sufficient information to indicate the petitioned action may be warranted. DFG nevertheless evaluated the petition on its face in relation to other relevant information it possessed or received during its initial review, as it is required to do by law. Such information included the materials referenced in the petition, which DFG obtained through its own effort.
Very little scientific information exists regarding gray wolves that is specific to California. The only concrete information to date is that a single male wolf – OR7 – first crossed into California in December 28, 2011. Before OR7, the last confirmed wolf in California was in the state in 1924 and, since then, "sightings" have turned out to be coyotes, dogs, wolf-dog hybrids, etc. Anecdotal evidence suggests that gray wolves historically were distributed broadly throughout California, though DFG concludes that the lack of documented reliable observations in the state suggests that the population was not large and has been extirpated for approximately 80 years.
The Commission will vote on DFG’s recommendation in early October. As we recently reported, the federal government is currently considering delisting the gray wolf in Wyoming under the federal Endangered Species Act.