An Oregon gray wolf that has ventured farther into southern California than any individual of this species in nearly 100 years has died, apparently after being hit by a car in Kern County, officials confirmed Wednesday.
The motorist reported the discovery to Oregon Wildlife officials, who notified the California agency. One of the wardens replied that the wolf is OR93 because of his collar.
The young wolf was found with “shock consistent with a vehicle strike,” and evil play has been ruled out, according to the autopsy.
CDFW has been tracking the wolf’s historic journey through the Golden State, which began at the beginning of this year.
“Before his death, his travel as far south as California has been documented since wolves returned to the state, which has historically been a wolf habitat,” the statement said. “The last documented southernmost wolf captured in San Bernardino County in 1922.”
Born in 2019 in northern Oregon, the gray wolf was first tracked entering California through Modoc County in January. He returned briefly to Oregon before crossing back into Golden State on February 4.
His journey through California took him through parts of Alpine, Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras Mono, Tulumney, Fresno, San Benito, and Monterey counties.
OR93’s last transmission was on April 5 in San Luis Obispo County, and in that time it traveled at least 935 miles across the state, averaging 16 miles a day, according to fish and wildlife officials.
Although its collar has stopped transmitting, CDFW believes OR93 was the gray wolf spotted in Kern County in mid May In Ventura County late September.
Gray wolves have their origins in California, but the state’s population was wiped out in the 1920s, only beginning to return a decade ago.
This species is listed as critically endangered in California, making it illegal to kill, shoot, stalk, harm, hunt, harass or capture it, according to the CDFW.