The epic journey of gray wolf OR-93 comes to a tragic end near the 5 Freeway

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Wolf advocates across the country were contemplating bad news this week: the epic journey of a lone gray wolf who seeks territory from Oregon to the crowded suburbs of Southern California and ends up in a vehicle collision near the female companion Interstate. It was done 5 in the Kern County town of Lebeck.

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“OR-93’s relentless wanderings gave us hope, inspiration and a brief glimpse of what it would be like to see wolves run free again in California,” said Amarok Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity. “I only wish we could offer him a safer world.”

California’s boldest wolf was found dead on the afternoon of November 10 by a truck driver who saw the carcass on a dirt trail near a road running parallel to Interstate 5, officials said. A state game warden collected the remains, which were taken to the Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova, Calif., where the autopsy was performed.

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An autopsy performed by the California Department of Health, which was found about 50 miles north of Los Angeles, determined that OR-93 had “significant tissue trauma to the left rear leg, a dislocated knee, and abdomen.” in soft tissue trauma”. Fish and Wildlife said on Wednesday. The agency also said it “determines that the wolf died of a trauma commensurate with the vehicle strike and does not suspect foul play.”

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Driven by an evolutionary gamble to pass on their genetic information to new generations of wolves in an area where they hadn’t been seen for more than 200 years, OR-93’s record-breaking trip to California turned a violent force. indicated a possible withdrawal. Some conservationists hoped that they would repair unbalanced wild lands and make them more stable and diverse.

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But it also increased the odds that the OR-93 would wander into trouble on highways, in the suburbs, or on the farm, where it could be mistaken for an unusually large coyote and trapped and shot as a threat to livestock. was killed.

Weiss was one of wolf advocates and wolf haters, opening their eyes to an unusually large canine predator, as biologists reported on April 5 in San Luis Obispo County, emitted by OR-93’s purple radio collar. The track “Pings” was lost. , about a three-hour drive north of Los Angeles.

By then, state wildlife officials said, they had traveled at least 935 air miles in California, a minimum average of 16 miles per day.

Deepening the mystery was the fact that the officers did not pick up the “death signal” from the collar, which indicated that the animal had stopped moving.

Only a week earlier, Weiss had taken a walk in a swamp of the woods Los Padres National Forest Where in May a landowner’s trail camera recorded video footage of a wolf near a pool of water.

“I immersed myself in that landscape, searching for scats, tracks—any clue that OR-93 was still moving,” she said. “I couldn’t find any. But I didn’t give up hope because the area is full of deer and there’s plenty of room to roam.”

OR-93 was just over a year old when biologists outfitted her with a GPS tracking collar, south of Mount Hood in western Oregon, near where she was born.

On January 30, he abandoned his pack and headed south, traveling rapidly and leaving a scent trail behind northern California lava beds, over an icy pass in the Sierra Nevada, on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park, and Moved to an agricultural field near Fresno.

From there, he headed west towards the Central Coast, successfully crossing the 99, 5 and 101 freeways – three of the most dangerous roads in the country.

The GPS collar gave Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists a few downloads of data about its location every day that were shared with California wildlife officials.

In California, wildlife officials were reluctant to reveal details about the wolf’s exact location for fear that it would make it easier for poachers to track down and kill it.

The California Cattlemen’s Assn., which tracks the wolves’ progress in the weekly bulletin, chose not to announce that the OR-93’s radio collar had gone silent. Association officials said at the time that the fact that the OR-93’s radio collar had stopped emitting signals did not mean that the wolf was still roaming the area in search of food.

There are thought to be fewer than two dozen wolves currently living in northern California, including the Lassen Pack, whose territory includes parts of Plumas and Lassen counties; Beckworth Pack in eastern Plumas County; and the whaleback pack, in eastern Siskiyou County. Then there is OR-103, another lone male who arrived in Northern California on May 4.

Millions of wolves thrived in nearly every region of North America before they were vanquished by government-backed poison-and-trapping campaigns. Today, only 6,000 remain in the Lower 48, and as many as 12,000 in Alaska, where they are legally hunted as big game.

Gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list a year ago when the US Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the overall population was “stable and healthy throughout its current range.”

Since then, Idaho and Montana have passed new laws to significantly reduce wolf populations in those states. Environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, responded to lawsuits that challenged it, calling it premature and unscientific.

Pamela Flick, California program director with Defenders of Wildlife, said OR-93’s “unfortunate passing along Interstate 5 calls for more wildlife crossing structures across the state to facilitate safer passage for animals and increase safety for humans.” underlines.”

Beth Pratt, regional executive director of the non-profit National Wildlife Federation and leader of her #SaveLACougars campaign for a wildlife crossing on a 10-lane section of the 101 Freeway in the Santa Monica Mountains, couldn’t agree more.

“I had to take a long walk after hearing the painful news of the OR-93 going astray,” she said. “At one point, he passed within 15 miles of my home near Yosemite National Park—and then I posted a sign in my driveway: ‘The wolves are back!’

She said, “What hurts inside is that OR-93 was only steps away from the 270,000-acre Tezon Ranch Conservancy when it ran away.

“A few feet away was a Shangri-La for the wolves just waiting for her and a courageous woman to follow her path in the history books.”

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