Gray Wolf That Trekked 935 Miles From Oregon to California Found Dead Near Roadway

An Oregon-born gray wolf, known as OR93, who traveled to Southern California was found dead after apparently being hit by a car, authorities said Wednesday.

Gray wolves are designated as endangered under the California Endangered Species Acts. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the wolves were eradicated from the state in the 1920s.

The Associated Press reported that OR93 was born in 2019 to the White River pack in northern Oregon. After entering California briefly in late January and coming back to Oregon, he re-entered California on Feb. 4 and began heading south.

His last collar transmission from April 5 showed him near San Luis Obispo County. The wildlife department said by then, he had traveled 935 miles.

"Before his demise, he was documented traveling the farthest south in California since wolves returned to the state, which is historically wolf habitat. The last documented wolf that far south was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922," the department said.

A truck driver spotted the wolf's body on Nov. 10 near the town of Lebec, about 75 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, some 2 million gray wolves once roamed freely through North America, but a federal extermination program dramatically cut their numbers down. They have been a protected endangered species since the 1960s.

Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement that the death is devastating.

"In this annual time of reflection, I thank him for the hope he gave us and for a brief glimpse into what it would be like for wolves to roam wild and free again," Weiss said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

gray wolves, Oregon, endangered
An Oregon-born gray wolf known as OR93 that thrilled biologists as it journeyed far south into California was found dead after apparently being struck by a vehicle, authorities said Wednesday, Nov. 24. Above, this February photo released by California Department of Fish and Wildlife shows OR93, near Yosemite, California. California Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, File

No foul play was suspected in the death of the male wolf, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a news release.

The carcass was located along a dirt trail near a frontage road running parallel to Interstate 5, and a warden who responded quickly identified the wolf as OR93 because of a radio tracking collar it wore, the department said.

A necropsy performed at Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova found that the wolf had significant tissue trauma to its left rear leg, a dislocated knee and soft tissue trauma to the abdomen.

OR93 was among a small number of gray wolves that have begun coming to California from other states.

"I'm devastated to learn of the death of this remarkable wolf, whose epic travels across California inspired the world," Weiss said.