Wolf in Yellowstone

Are There Wolves In California? Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Are There Wolves In California?

Nicknamed the “Golden State”, California is known to have a lot of things. This also includes a small number of the grey wolf population. 

Historically, grey wolves have been a native species in the state of California. However, due to extensive hunting, rapid urbanization, and loss of prey numbers, the wolves were killed. For almost a century since the early 1900s, no wolf was spotted in the state of California. 

In 2011, the first wolf was spotted since the last one disappeared/was killed in 1924. Named OR-7, the wolf paved the way for a further rise in the wolf population. 

The wolfs are designated as threatened in the state of California and various initiatives are currently going on to stabilize and increase the wolf population in the state of California. 

Though these wolves don’t pose a threat to the people of California, awareness of wolves will help us, and these wolfs in the long run. Let’s see some of the frequently asked questions on wolves in the state of California.

Are There Wolves in California?

Yes, there are wolves in California but just in a few numbers. These wolves are fitted with satellite collars and are regularly tracked by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Though the population of wolves has grown from 1 to 20 in the last 10 years, these wolves are at a higher risk of getting killed. 

Especially due to urbanization and expansion of cities, many roads a being built in areas where these wolves roam. A few wolves have also been injured/killed due to being hit by vehicles while crossing the road. 

Therefore, it is important that the people of California are cautious while driving and don’t try to kill these wolves if spotted on roads. Wolves are one of the apex predators. However, they are not a serious threat to humans.

How Many Wolves Are in California Now?

Currently, as per recent reports from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, there are 20 wolves living across the state of California. 

These wolves live in 3 packs namely the Lassen, Beckwourth, and Whaleback. Any new sightings of bears are always tracked and uncollared wolves are provided with new tags for tracking. 

By 1924, there were no wolves living in the state of California. Though no wolves were reintroduced in California, some wolves travelled to the state from nearby states. 

When Was the Last Time A Wolf Was Seen in California?

Are There Wolves In California?

Though wolf sightings are very rare in California due to their fewer numbers, 2 wolves were seen in Siskiyou County in mid-March of 2023. These wolves were part of the existing small but growing population of wolves in California.

The two wolves were located to provide new tracking collars, The old ones had some malfunctions. Such efforts are taken to track the rising wolf numbers to bolster the wolf population in the state. These wolves were given satellite collars and then sent back into the wild.

Also Check Our Guide On Wolves In US

What Is the Famous Wolf in California?

The last wolf in the state of California was sighted in 1924. After about 87 years, one lone male wolf, designated as OR-7 travelled to California from the Wallowa mountains in northeast Oregon in 2011. He was later nicknamed as Journey. 

No other wolf is as famous as Journey due to his immeasurable contribution to the now stable population of wolves in California state. 

Journey explored northeastern California in 2012 and returned to Orgon in 2013. As he was very near the California border, Journey often crossed the border back and forth.

Does Los Angeles Have Wolves?

Currently, the only known wolves in California live in the Northern part of the state. Wolves are highly adaptable and can be found in several types of terrains. They however prefer forests, and plains at high elevations with a good population of prey like hares, deer, and rabbits to hunt.

No wolf has been sighted in Los Angeles. However, as wolves are known to travel long distances, there may be a chance that you may encounter a wolf in the future. Though wolves don’t pose a serious threat to human life, it is always better to be cautious of these apex predators. 

The only reason a wolf may attack you is if you are near the food or near a pup. So, if you see a pup move away from the place as soon as possible. And when travelling with a pet dog, keep them closer to you.

Are There Wolves in The Bay Area?

Wolves avoid any places occupied by people. These pack animals eat small animals like rabbits, deer, hares etc. They are known to be generalist animals that can live in any place. As California has private forests, rangelands, and agricultural lands in the northern part, the current population is concentrated in that area. 

Though no wolves have been sighted in the Bay area to date, there is no guarantee that the same could be told for the future. 

The wolves may be spotted at least in the outskirts of the city in future due to population rise as wolves are known to travel miles and miles away from their home territory.

Can You Shoot a Wolf in California?

In 2014, wolves were added to the threatened list in the state of California. This was done to protect the very few wolves in the state at that time from hunters and other people looking to kill them. 

It is illegal to kill/hunt or catch a wolf in California by any means. The only exception to this is in the case of self-defence in which case the government will investigate the event before declaring the kill was due to self-defence.

It is to be noted that during trumps presidency, wolves were removed from threatened lists in various states. This led to a rapid rise in the death of wolves. Nearly 130 numbers of wolves were killed due to this change. 

These changes not only affect the number of wolves in the respective state but also in nearby states like California, where the population boom is dependent on wolves travelling to the state from nearby states. If there are no wolves in the nearby state, the number of wolves in California too will drop.


And that was everything you need to know about the Wolves in California. I hope this article was helpful and your queries were answered.

Thank You For Reading!

Our Goto Source For This Guide

Scroll to Top