Wolf recolonization monitoring

In 1924, wolves were extirpated from California. In 2015, the first confirmed wolf returned to the state. As of 2022, according to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, there were three wolf packs in the state. Information about wolf abundance and dispersal is a critical component to managing the potential conservation conflicts that can arise with the natural return of wolves. We are leveraging passive acoustic monitoring techniques to work with agency partners to support wolf management in California and beyond.

An exciting technological component of the project, which was made possible by the generous support of Sonos, is the deployment of real-time acoustic monitoring devices built by OekoFor. These units, which are powered by solar panels, run BirdNET in real-time and text us updates daily.

Our work currently focuses on the Lassen Pack in Lassen and Plumas counties. Connor first worked in that region in the summer of 2011, when the possibility of Oregon wolves recolonizing the northern Sierra felt tantalizingly close in the wildlife ecology community. He took the picture below at sunrise along the PCT, looking north towards Mt. Lassen and hoping…

Now, just over a decade later there are at least three wolf packs in California. Their long-term future will depend in part on understanding pack size and distribution to facilitate co-existence with human communities.