County is addressing ranchers’ wolf dog concerns

The arrival of a pack of gray wolves in Lassen County and California’ recent first confirmed kill of livestock by wolves in more than a century in the Clover Valley in Western Lassen County have raised serious concerns among many area ranchers. Because the wolves are protected as endangered species by both the federal and state governments, the ranchers have few legal options to protect their livestock from their attacks.

According to the latest quarterly update from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Lassen Pack contains a male, a collared female and a minimum of four pups. Since September the pups have been traveling with the parents. Another black male wolf has also been reported in the area.

According to the update, “CDFW continues to receive and investigate reports of wolf presence in many parts of California.”

While the ranchers have expressed their concern about the presence of a pack of apex predators near their grazing herds, they also report incidents and encounters with what they believe are wolf dog hybrids that have been released into the wild, and they question why the county hasn’t taken action against High Desert Wolves, an alleged breeder of wolf dog hybrids near Ravendale. The ranchers also allege there are other similar facilities in the area as well, including one in Plumas County near Chester.

They also point out it’s illegal to keep a wild wolf as a pet, and they allege first generation wolf dog hybrids are illegal as well, and they wonder why the county would tolerate such activities.
Thanks to an Aug. 15 stipulated judgment between Lassen County and High Desert Wolves, at least some of those concerns may be on the path to resolution.

For several years, Lassen County and the board of supervisors have wrestled with finding a way to bring High Desert Wolves, a facility near Ravendale that says it breeds wolf dog hybrids, into compliance with the county ordinance regarding the maximum number of dogs allowed on a single piece of property. County code permits a maximum of 25 dogs older than 6 months per parcel, and High Desert Wolves has reportedly kept more than 100 animals for at least five years.

The agreement between the county and High Desert Wolves will eventually bring the facility into compliance with the county ordinance by June 1, 2018.

By June 1, 2018, all dogs on the property will be spayed or neutered except pregnant or nursing animals.

In addition, High Desert Wolves has agreed that all the animals at the facility will be spayed or neutered by Oct. 1, 2018.

High Desert Wolves agreed to bring the total number of animals down to 75 by Oct. 1, 2017, and the population will drop to 25 animals by 5 p.m. June 1, 2018.

The judgment also grants the county the right to verify compliance along the timeline.

It’s been a long process, but county government and High Desert Wolves finally are working together to bring the facility into compliance with county code.

Ranchers still may have to worry about gray wolves and their impact on their herds in the future, but hopefully their concerns about wolf dog hybrids from High Desert Wolves will have been addressed once and for all.