Rare gray wolf killed by vehicle after ‘epic’ journey south to California, officials say
A gray wolf that grabbed the attention of biologists for its historical journey died after being hit by a vehicle in California, authorities said Wednesday.
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, OR93 was found dead Nov. 10 near Lebec after traveling “at least 935 air miles in California, a minimum average of 16 air miles per day.” The last wolf recorded so far south was captured in 1922, the department added. Lebec is roughly 70 miles north of Los Angeles.
Officials believe OR93 was hit by a vehicle and do not suspect foul play, the CDFW said in a statement.
OR93, a male wolf born in 2019 in Oregon, was first tracked entering Modoc County in northeastern California in January 2021 before briefly returning to Oregon, according to the CDFW. He traveled south through California and by March was in Fresno County – over 500 miles from the Oregon border.
“His epic travels across California inspired the world. In this annual time of reflection, I thank him for the hope he gave us and for a brief glimpse into what it would be like for wolves to roam wild and free again,” Amaroq Weiss, an advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, told NBC News.
“I’m devastated to learn of the death of this remarkable wolf.”
Gray wolves have been on the endangered species list since 1974, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. They are native to California, but were eradicated in the state in the 1920’s, according to the CDFW.