No one knows the fate the Lassen Pack’s original breeding male, but a the new wolf that replaced him has been busy — siring at least nine pups with two different females — according to a Wolf Management Update on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
The Lassen Pack is California’s second contemporary pack, and the only currently known pack in the state.
CDFW investigators believe the pack now has three adults, three yearlings and nine pups with at least four new offspring this year from LAS09F.
That determination has been confirmed by “genetic analysis of numerous scats collected at several pup-rearing sites,” according to the update.
While researchers originally believed a breeding female captured and collared in June 2020 was LAS01F, genetic analysis led to the identification of newly collared wolf as LAS09F, a second breeding female — a 2-year-old female from the 2018 litter. This is the only collared member of the pack with a functioning satellite radio collar at the end of September.
Similarly, a yearling male captured and collared this summer was initially referred to as LAS03M, but through genetic analysis he has been identified as LAS13M — the 13th Lassen Pack member genetically and uniquely identified.
According to the update, LAS13M began to disperse from the Lassen Pack in mid-August. CDFW reports a black male wolf has been reported hanging around near the Lassen Pack, and LAS13M may be that previously lone wolf. Male wolves generally are very discriminating and avoid partners with whom they share genetic information, so it’s unlikely the new breeding male originated in the Lassen Pack.
Satellite date indicates LAS13M spent some time in the pack’s home range, but he traveled to Modoc County in late September before entering Lake County, Oregon in early October.
“Because we have regularly detected dispersing wolves in California since December 2011, it is likely that a small number of uncollared dispersers exist in the north state exist at any moment in time,” CDFW reports.
According to the update, CDFW and USDA Wildlife Services investigated five suspected wolf depredations during the quarter — three in Lassen County (cow, Aug. 17, calf, Aug. 23 and calf, Sept. 15) and two in Plumas County (calf, Aug. 28 and calf, Sept. 5).
According to the update, “CDFW continues to receive and investigate reports of wolf presence from many parts of California. Public reports are an important tool for us. Report wolves or wolf sign on the CDFW Gray Wolf webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Sighting-Report.