In 2020, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported OR54, a wolf that traveled extensively through Lassen, Plumas, Butte, Tehama and other counties, was found dead in Shasta County. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Supes ask state to explain wolves’ status

Lassen County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a letter to state officials seeking “validation” of the state’s assumption California is the “natural habitat” of wolves now taking up residence in the state.

The April 21 letter, addressed to Charlton Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Melissa Miller-Henson, executive director of the California Fish and Game Commission; Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the Natural Resources Agency; and Eric Sklar, president of the California Fish and Game Commission; is a follow-up to the supervisors’ October 2018 resolution that was provided to the commission.

“Since 2018, we have been patiently waiting for your response,” the supervisors wrote. The board acknowledged it had received a “blank California Endangered Species Act petition,” but nothing else.

“I thought it was interesting that we never got a response from our first letter,” said district 1 supervisor Chris Gallagher. “It would seem like if they’re having their public hearings, they would have to have some response to a letter the board of supervisors from Lassen County sends, and we haven’t received any response whatsoever, which is crazy. And yet, they still haven’t listed them as endangered.”

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“It’s not in their backyard, supervisor said district 4 supervisor Aaron Albaugh. “They just ignore it. Sweep it under the rug. It will go away.”

Gallagher said the state did not have a plan, but county administrative officer Richard Egan said the state wrote a plan, but at that time no wolves were in the state. Now that the wolves are in California, he said they could come up with a better plan.

“I hope this letter will help,” Albaugh said.

“If we don’t get a response in three or four months, we should shoot off another letter,” Gallagher said.

According to the supervisors’ letter, the state “did not evaluate if the animal is likely to cause environmental ham as an introduced, invasive and noxious pest.”

Wolves in California migrated south from Oregon and west from Idaho.

The letter reads, “We find it impossible to support the commission’s position that the animal is in its natural habitat of California and that it is endangered; which are details that do not seem to be true or scientifically proven. The state has not established how a non-native animal that has dispersed from another state is a ‘native animal species’ to California.

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“Please validate your assumptions that this animal’s original and natural habitat is California. We respectfully disagree with the commission’s decision naming this animal as an endangered species under the CSA. The state has not defined and confirmed that a ‘wolf’ is substantially genetically matching to the state’s original native wolf species.”

The supervisors also noted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife plan does not provide compensation or methods to protect Californian’s property or consider the wolves’ economic impact on rural areas.

And the supervisors want the state to “publicly disclose how many taxpayer funds have been spent by the state for conservation and management of these animals.”

Copies of the letter were also sent to assemblywoman Megan Dahle and state senator Brian Dahle.