Gifted my first wolfdog from an incredibly special Native American man in 2001, one wolfdog led to eventually four and my deep passion for wolves.
In 2011 the first grey wolf was spotted in the Mt. Shasta area of Northern California, a two-and-a-half-year-old collared wolf from Oregon that was known as OR-7, the first documented wolf in California in 87 years. The Shasta Pack formed in 2015, becoming California’s first contemporary wolf pack.
At this time in my life, I had one wolfdog, “Ambassador Sage,” who was educating the public about the importance of wolves in the wild, the ecosystem, and the geographical footprint in Yellowstone known as, “How Wolves Change Rivers.”
So many Californians were so excited about having a pack of wolves, however, the cattle ranching industry did not share this excitement with us, as they feared for their livestock, and wanted to put an end to the Shasta Pack. Thankfully, California Fish & Wildlife decided to conduct a wolf-management study to decide if they were going to protect this pack under the California Endangered Species Act.
Ambassador Sage and I hit the ground with our paws running full speed ahead, ready to speak for these wolves. I will never forget speaking at one of the Fish & Wildlife meetings in Long Beach, California with Sage at my side facing the Fish & Wildlife Panel, our backs to the audience made up of ranchers, hunters, and a few wolf advocates. I heard men scream, “shoot her,” referring to Sage. The chills and sadness felt in my bones were indescribable; I could not understand why anyone would want to kill these magnificent animals. At the closing of my presentation, I looked at the panel and said, “before you cast your vote on protecting these animals, please look deep into Sage’s eyes and ask yourself this: ‘how can you kill her?'” That day, Sage ended up becoming the face of the Grey Wolf for all of California Fish and Wildlife.
It was that very moment that I knew Sage and I needed to be guardians of these wolves, to speak for them. In order to do that, we needed to work with ranchers on protecting their livestock using non-lethal measures, letting them know that their livestock was just as important as our wolves, working together not against each other.
I gathered research from around the world on successful non-lethal measures but when I returned the pack was gone, some suspected of having migrated and some presumed dead.
With the Shasta Pack’s dissolve, Guardians of the Wolves was formed.
A couple of years later the second contemporary pack formed, known as The Lassen Pack. Our work will continue and we take pride in everything we do to keep this pack, and others, safe.