Trail Camera Captures Iconic Howl to Prove Wolves are Returning to California

Stepping into the frame and staring up at the clandestine trail camera, a wolf lets out an ungodly howl as it stands in a forest between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The footage was taken on January 23 and the wolf belongs to the Yowlumni Pack that was discovered in the summer of 2023. The pack is one of four new wolf packs discovered in California last year, according to Field and Stream.

The Yowlumni Pack are the first wolves spotted in Southern California for 150 years after first returning to the Golden State in 2011.

The video of the howling wolf, which also contains footage of the wider pack, was captured by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife which discovered the pack in Sequoia National Forest.

“Wolves howl as one form of communication with one another and often howl to locate each other,” writes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on YouTube. “Packs aren’t always together and may temporarily separate, capturing this behavior on video is extremely rare.”

While wolves returning to the Southwestern United States is seen as a good thing for many people, some local farmers wonder if large predators still belong in the world given the dangers they pose to cattle ranchers.

“You can’t kill a wolf even if it kills your cattle because wolves are federally protected,” William McDarment, a rancher on the Tule River Reservation in Tulare county told The Guardian in November. “So, what do we do?”

The CDFW considers wolves to be a recovering endangered species and they are protected under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) and the federal Endangered Species Act.

“The department strives to conserve gray wolf populations for their ecological and intrinsic values,” reads a statement on the CDFW website, “and closely monitors our overall wolf population … for conservation and research, management and conflict mitigation.”

The Yowlumni name derives from the Yowlumni band of the Tule River Yokuts. Vernon Vera, a Tule River Tribal Elder, explains that Yowlumni translates to “wolf tongue.”

“[My mother Agnes] was the last fluent speaker of Yowlumni until her passing in 2010,” Vera tells the CDFW. “She taught that the Yowlumni were speakers of the wolf tongue.”