California wildlife officials will launch a one-year study to determine whether the gray wolf needs state endangered species protections.
The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday unanimously agreed that further study — spurred by a petition from environmental groups — was warranted.
Protections are being debated after a lone gray wolf from Oregon wandered into Northern California in search of a mate; it was the first evidence of a wolf in the state in decades.
The lone wolf called OR-7 is outfitted with a tracking tag, and is being studied by government scientists.
Gray wolves are a federally protected species, but populations in other Western states have increased, so wildlife advocates want to ensure future protections if federal ones are dropped.
Ranchers and several rural counties oppose the petition.
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