CDFW releases final wolf management plan for California

Wolves have been a topic of conversation as of late, since a male and female pair was confirmed in Lassen County in November of this year.

This month the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released a Final Wolf Management Plan for California.

“This planning effort addresses important concerns that arrive with the presence of wolves, including conflicts with livestock and the maintenance of adequate prey sources for wolves, other predators and public use,” it says in the CDFW plan.

The plan is split up into two parts. The first part contains brief summaries of the development of the plan, key issues, goals, objectives and strategies to achieve the plans goals. Part 2 contains a detailed background on wolf conservation.

According to the CDFW, the agency began to prepare for the possibility of gray wolves in 2011 by monitoring news of recent expansion in Oregon and Washington.

“It appeared reasonable to anticipate that wolves would eventually come into California given the specie’s ability to disperse,” said the CDFW.

The CDFW was able to secure a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Section 6 Grant to fund the development of a gray wolf plan.

The CDFW established a Stakeholder Working Group made up of organizations and interest groups in California, covering agricultural, conservation, environmental and hunting interests.

The plan discusses 10 strategies and three phases that will need to be followed in able to help conserve the gray wolf.

“In this section the CDFW identifies strategies and actions the department may implement as conservation and management actions for wolves in California,” says the plan.

Strategy one talks about how the wolf population will need to be monitored and assessed which would include monitoring trail cameras, looking at scat and hair samples and may even include capturing and collaring.

Strategy one also calls for collecting and compiling reported wolf sightings in California.

Strategy two will assess and address threats to wolf conservation, which includes identifying disease and risk factors that pose a health threat to people or other animals.

Strategy three will help protect and manage habitats to provide abundant prey for wolves and other predators as well as for use by the public.

Strategy four helps in managing wolf and livestock conflicts by providing timely information regarding wolf activity in the vicinity of livestock, providing non-lethal assistance to livestock producers and consider development of livestock and wolf program which could provide compensation.

Strategy five develops outreach to the public who may be affected by wolves.

Strategy six helps to manage wolf and human interactions to reduce safety concerns involving humans or pets.

Strategy seven involves conducting surveys to gather information about the public’s knowledge of wolves and conservation and their attitudes towards it.

Strategy eight manages conflict between wolves and other endangered species.

Strategy nine coordinates with public agencies, landowners and other entities to help achieve wolf conservation goals by informing them of wolf activity and den sites.

Strategy 10 reports on and evaluates the implementation of the plan, which involves preparing an annual update of the CDFW’s activities.

According to the CDFW’s plan, wolf conservation will be implemented through three phases.

Phase one accounts for the period of establishment of wolves, first as individuals dispersing wolves and then through formation of packs. This phase is currently under way.

The CDFW says phase one will end when four breeding pairs are confirmed for two consecutive years. A breeding pair consists of one adult female, one adult male and at least  one adult male and two pups that survive until Dec. 31.

“Based on information from Washington and Oregon, the estimated population at the conclusion of Phase 1 will likely be in a range of 90 to 110 wolves,” said the CDFW plan.

Phase two will begin after the CDFW confirms four breeding pairs for two consecutive years.

The CDFW says phase two will end when eight breeding pairs are confirmed for two consecutive years.

“This phase is envisioned as a period of time when wolves range into and inhabit suitable areas of Northern California and perhaps portions of the central Sierra Nevada,” said the CDFW’s plan.

Based on wolf recolonization and recovery data from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, the population at the end of phase two and beginning of phase 3 will be around 153 to 190 wolves.

During phase 3 long-term management strategies will be implemented.

According to the CDFW this period will provide a suitable time frame to conduct whether the state listing as endangered remains warranted.