Imagine hearing the sound of a wolf howl in California’s wilderness! Wolves were eradicated in the Golden State by humans almost a century ago, but now they are moving back into their historic range. Human-caused mortality is still the number one cause of death for wolves; therefore, human tolerance for sharing the landscape with this iconic species is critical to ensuring their long-term survival here.
Working Circle and the California Wolf Center are leading the way to welcome wolves back home, by providing innovative solutions to wolf-livestock conflicts, and education programs that help people successfully share the landscape with this iconic species.
Wolves were exterminated in much of their historic range in North America because of people’s fear that they would prey on livestock. Archaic stereotypes of the “big bad wolf” continue to influence perceptions of this species - despite being at odds with actual wolf behavior. As wolves have started ranging back into Northern California and establishing territories here, many farmers and ranchers still have concerns about livestock predation. Wolves can also come into conflict with humans when they enter rural and suburban communities where they can encounter pets, garbage, and other things that adversely affect their natural behavior. Other types of human activities also pose a threat to wolves, including injuries and fatalities caused by cars.
Wolves need large territorial areas in order to thrive - something that poses a challenge in California, where our wild spaces exist side by side with agricultural and urban areas. California’s large human population also puts pressure on wild spaces and wildlife.
Helping People Share the Landscape with Wolves
Working Circle and The California Wolf Center are partnering with stakeholders including the agricultural community to create a California Wolf Recovery and Management Plan, implementing proactive solutions that will enable wolves and people to successfully co-exist as wolves repopulate their historic range in our state. The project’s solutions in the field include funding, training and implementing practices that save the lives of wolves in the wild, including the use of non-lethal control methods such as radio-activated guard boxes, deterrent flags, and livestock guardian dogs to deter livestock predation and encourage wolves to establish home ranges away from agricultural areas. A crucial aspect of the project’s mission is working to ensure that wolves have legal protection in California and can peacefully return to wild areas.
Research and Education
Working Circle and The California Wolf Center are increasing awareness and understanding of wolves through engaging education programs, public outreach, and research to study wolves’ biology, behavior and history in California. By learning factual information about wolves, people can understand how this highly social and intelligent animal plays a key role in the functioning of a healthy ecosystem. In addition to their work with training and education programs throughout the state, the California Wolf Center is also actively involved in working to restore endangered Mexican gray wolves to the wild. Their conservation center in Julian provides educational programs and hosts both ambassador wolves and individual animals that can potentially be released into the wild.
The Zoo has fully embraced the efforts of Working Circle and The California Wolf Center.
Quarters for Conservation:
Oakland Zoo selected the California Wolf Center as a 2015-2018 featured project, raising funds to benefit their work on behalf of wild wolves in our state.
Outreach and Education:
Oakland Zoo aims to use our immense access to the public to help wildlife. We are enthusiastic about the return of wolves to California, and share information about this charismatic species - as well as what people can do to help them - with our guests.
Oakland Zoo’s California Trail includes gray wolves, alongside other native Californian species. Conservation education is an important component of the California Trail.