With its pristine, protected landscapes, Yosemite National Park in California and the surrounding land make an enticing home for wildlife. Animals travel through the area every day, but few garner as much attention as one recent visitor. As SFGATE reports, a wolf was spotted near Yosemite for the first time in over a century.
The young male from Oregon, dubbed OR-93, was fitted with a tracking collar in his youth. The collar has allowed wildlife officials to monitor his movements and behaviors as he gets older. After growing up with Oregon's White River wolf pack, OR-93 left the state in early 2021 and headed south. He traveled hundreds of miles between California highways 4 and 108 before ending up in Mono County immediately east of Yosemite National Park.
Though the gray wolf's range once covered Northern California and the area east of the Sierra Nevada, the predator has long been absent from the state. They were wiped out of California in the early 20th century, and since then, just 16 wild wolves have been documented there. Prior to OR-93's journey, no wolf had ventured farther south than Lake Tahoe in modern history.
It hasn't been great for tourists, but the past year has been a boon for wildlife in and around Yosemite National Park. When attendance to the park plummeted in spring of 2020, bears, bobcats, and coyotes reclaimed areas once reserved for human activity. Experts believe that OR-93 was drawn to the region while searching for a mate. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will continue to keep tabs on him for as long as he calls the state home.