State officials in California will wait 90 days before deciding whether to grant the gray wolf protective status as an endangered species.
The California Fish and Game Commission voted Wednesday to delay the decision to allow more time for public input, according to The Associated Press
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One wolf was tracked coming into Northern California from Oregon in recent years.
Advocates want the California Fish and Game Commission to grant protections before more wolves enter the state, the AP said.
Ranchers are opposed to the protections, saying such a policy would mean they couldn’t even chase a wolf away from a vulnerable calf.
"Wolves directly kill livestock and in addition to that they can cause disease and other harm from stress," said Kirk Wilbur, director of government relations for the California Cattlemen's Association, the AP reported.
Wolves have successfully been reintroduced in western states and are now are found in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and the Great Lakes. Federal protections have ended, and hunts are allowed to reduce wolf numbers.
The gray wolf seen in Northern California is believed to be the first wolf in the state since 1924.
Wildlife officials in the state say the wolf isn’t endangered in California because it hasn’t existed in the state for decades.
"The species is not at risk of disappearing in the state of California," Wilbur said, according to the AP. "It is, rather, reappearing."
Most of those who spoke out at Wednesday’s meeting were in support of wolves, the AP reported, including Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity, who told the Ventura County Reporter that the gray wolf should be listed as endangered
“There’s no requirement under the state act that you have a breeding population or a continuous presence of the species,” she said.
“Wolves aren’t gods and they aren’t devils,” she added. “Wolves are pretty magnificent and they have a key role in the ecosystem.”
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