LEBEC (CBSLA) — A gray wolf born in Oregon who traveled all the way to Southern California has been found dead in Kern County, apparently after being struck by a car.

(credit: California Department Of Fish & Wildlife)

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OR-93, a male gray wolf born in 2019, was found dead on Nov. 10 along Interstate 5 near the Lebec. According the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, a truck driver had seen the dead wolf along a dirt trail near frontage road running alongside the I-5 and called it in to the Oregon Fish & Wildlife officials.

A CDFW warden went to the scene to collect the wolf’s remains and quickly identified it as OR-93 because of his distinctive purple collar.

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A complete necropsy performed on OR-93 at the Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova found the wolf “had significant tissue trauma to the left rear leg and a dislocated knee as well as soft tissue trauma to the abdomen.” OR-93’s injuries were determined to have been caused by being struck by a vehicle.

Gray wolves are known to travel very long distances. OR-93 left his White River pack in northern Oregon, and was tracked going back and forth across the state border, before finally making his way south deep into California, traveling as much as 16 air miles per day. He was sighted at least three times in Ventura County in September. Before he died, OR-93 was the only known wolf to travel so far south in California since one was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922.

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Gray wolves are an endangered species in California and CDFW, which is monitoring the state’s small wolf population, welcomes reports of sightings in California. Authorities say they pose very little safety risk to humans and urge the public to learn the differences between wolves, coyotes, and dogs.