Gray wolf reports in northern Ventura County could signal rare visit
An endangered gray wolf reportedly spotted in north Ventura County would, if confirmed, mark the first local sighting in nearly a century.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday it had received three reports last month of a wolf with a purple collar in the remote northern part of the county. Officials were able to confirm wolf tracks in the vicinity.
The reports match the description of OR-93, a young male who was fitted with a purple tracking collar by federal wildlife officials in Oregon in June 2020. The collar's transmission indicated he entered California early this year, passing through the Sierra Nevada and the San Joaquin Valley before reaching San Luis Obispo County, where officials received the last signal on April 5.
"Though historically all of California is wolf habitat, this is the farthest south in California that any gray wolf has been documented since one was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922," wildlife department officials said in a statement.
Although wildlife officials have not corroborated the reported sightings with forensic evidence, three reported Ventura County sightings between Sept. 20 and 26 included details of a gray wolf wearing a purple collar similar to the one worn by OR-93.
"We're thrilled to hear that OR-93 is likely alive and exploring Ventura County after not hearing from him for months," said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. "This beautiful wolf's amazing adventure shows the world what intrepid animals they are."
If an opportunity arises, wildlife officers may try to catch and re-collar the wolf to continue tracking its journey. Wildlife officials are monitoring gray wolves because they are listed as endangered in California.
Gray wolves are not a safety risk for humans, although they may pose a risk to livestock, according to the wildlife agency.