RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Nevada Department of Wildlife has confirmed a wolf from the Shasta Pack in Northern California was spotted near Fox Mountain in northwestern Nevada in November 2016. Fox Mountain is in northern Washoe County, west of the Black Rock Desert.
Nevada Department of Wildlife personnel investigated the sighting after being alerted to a video recording of the apparent wolf. During the investigation, scat from the animal was found and sent for genetic analyses to determine if the animal was indeed a wolf. The University of Idaho's Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics recently confirmed the droppings were from a male offspring of the Shasta Pack.
No photos or video have been released by NDOW.
The is NDOW's first verified presence of a wolf in Nevada since 1922.
“While we have had a number of reports of wolves over the years, primarily in northeastern Nevada,” says Brian Wakeling, Game Chief for NDOW, “this observation is of a lone animal and is not confirmation of wolves with established territories in Nevada.”
Wakeling says while it is possible for transient wolves to occasionally wander across the California, Oregon or Idaho borders into extreme northern Nevada, there is no evidence that any wolves have taken up residence in the Silver State.
"Following the release of wolves in Yellowstone Park, it has taken over 20 years for the first confirmed occurrence in Nevada," said Tony Wasley NDOW Director. "Clearly, this confirmed sighting has heightened the Department's awareness. We will be closely monitoring the situation."
The Shasta Pack from California has seven known members, two adults and five offspring. While none of the wolves in this pack has a radio collar and has been located recently, there is no evidence the animals reside within Nevada, according to NDOW. The single wolf was a young male likely in search of a mate, but he hasn't been spotted within Nevada following this sighting.
Wolves in Nevada are listed as "endangered" under the federal Endangered Species Act. The federal act prohibits the harassment, harm, pursuit, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capture, or collection of wolves, or the attempt to engage in any such conduct.
In Nevada, wolves are classified as a game mammal. Currently, there is no open season defined by the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, which means taking or attempting to take a wolf in Nevada is unlawful even without federal protections. Predator hunters should be cautioned that when hunting coyotes in Nevada there is a slight chance a wolf may be in the area.