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Gray Wolves in California

Hunting Regulations Icon California Hunting

Gray Wolf Status and Protections

Gray wolves are native to California and up until very recently, had not been present in the state since the 1920s. With the recent expansion of this large carnivore in the western United States, gray wolves are recolonizing California. This species is wide ranging and as a habitat generalist, can be found in many different habitats. Currently, gray wolves are known is the northernmost parts of the state (southern Cascades and Modoc Plateau areas).

For additional information, please see: or

To report wolf activity or sightings please contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (530) 225-2300 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (916) 414-6660 or

Gray wolves are listed as an endangered species under both the federal Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act and as such there are prohibitions against lethal take and harassment for the species.

Methods to Reduce Conflict Between Wolves and Hunting/ Companion Dogs

Wolves and domestic dogs have the potential to come into contact with each other in rural or remote landscapes where wolves have reestablished. Wolf packs are often highly territorial and protective around dens, rendezvous sites, and feeding locations. Thus, domestic dogs may be attacked by wolves defending their territory or pups. Methods to avoid wolf and domestic dog conflicts include:

Hunting dogs (hound breeds)

  • Avoid releases in areas with fresh evidence of wolves.
  • Release hounds only on fresh sign of the target species to avoid long chases.
  • Yell or make noise when releasing hounds and going to tree.
  • Reach hounds at trees as quickly as possible so they are not unattended for long periods.
  • Leash dogs at trees to control them.
  • Place bells or beeper collars on hounds.

Hunting dogs (retriever, pointer, and flushing breeds)

  • Keep dogs within sight.
  • Place bells or beeper collars on dog(s).
  • Bring a leash to restrain dogs if wolves or wolf sign are encountered.
  • Use a whistle and talk loudly to dog(s) and other hunters.

When hiking or camping with companion dogs in areas occupied by wolves:

  • Consider leaving dogs at home.
  • Do not allow dogs to roam at large. Dogs running loose may attract wolves.
  • Bring a leash to restrain dogs if wolves or wolf sign are encountered.
  • Keep dogs on a leash when walking/hiking in known wolf habitat.
  • Consider placing a bell on the dog’s collar.
  • Do not leave dogs outside overnight unless they are kept in a sturdy kennel.
  • Do not leave dog food outside at night.
  • Avoid letting dogs outside for bathroom breaks after dark except in areas with good lighting or fencing.

If you encounter a wolf:

  • Bring the dogs to heel at your side or put them on leash as quickly as possible.
  • Pick up small dogs to minimize potential contact.
  • Stand between the dogs and the wolf, which often ends the encounter.
  • Do not attempt to break up a fight between a wolf and a dog, which could result in injury to you.