Wolves Spotted in Modoc County’s Warner Mountains?

by John Soares on November 23, 2010

The Warner Mountains and the Surprise Valley are one of my favorite hidden gems of far northern California. Hike 46, “Patterson Lake and Squaw Peak,” in my 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California explores the high reaches of the South Warner Mountains and is one of my all-time favorite hiking trails.

Now there’s some intel that wolves might have made it back to the Warner Mountains. Here’s San Francisco Chronicle writer Tom Stienstra on the subject:

The reports make sense because Rocky Mountain elk – which wolves track, stalk and kill for food – have been verified as having migrated from Idaho to Nevada and into the South Warner Mountains, east of Alturas in Modoc County. Most of the wolf sightings are in this area, in the vicinity of Surprise Valley near the eastern flank of the Warners, where they could prey on the elk, according to Jean Bilodeaux, a reporter and author, and Valerie Lantz, executive director of the Central Modoc River Center.

I’ll likely make a trip to the area in late spring or early summer, and I’ll definitely be lookin’ for Brother Wolf.


There actually is a wolf in northern California, at least in late December of 2011. Read about wolf OR7 in California’s Siskiyou County.

Gray Wolf. (Credit: Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS)

Gray Wolf. (Credit: Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS)

Have you seen what you thought was a wolf in northern California? Share!

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Happy Camper November 25, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Wolves are both fascinating and scary for me. They are so beautiful to look out, but for someone like me who’s already knee-shakenly scared of ordinary dogs, wolves poses great danger in my wildly muddled psyche.


John Soares November 26, 2010 at 6:50 am

I’ve never seen a wolf, but I don’t think I’d be particularly scared of them. But we all have fears that aren’t entirely rational, like your being scared of dogs.

I don’t know if wolves present much attack danger to humans or not.


Gabe December 6, 2010 at 12:51 am

Being scared of wolfs reminds me to the term ‘Siberian toilet’.
It is two wooden stick. One is to stick down and hang on to,
the other one is to keep hushing the wolfs away.


Mike December 7, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Very good news! I hope the reports are accurate. I’m with you John, a trip out that way next spring is in order, hopefully for a sighting or two 🙂


John Soares December 7, 2010 at 7:30 pm

I’m hopeful too. But you never know — we need more definitive proof, like photos.


John Soares December 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm

And…our congressional representative, Republican Wally Herger, is fighting to keep wolves out of northern California:



CODENAME January 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I read it in in the newspaper *after* I thought they would be here. I thought of it first. >:D


Nick April 17, 2011 at 1:23 am

Awesome! I hope the story is true. The Warner Mountains are my place, mostly for rainbow obsidian, but hopefully now for wolf sightings.


John Soares April 17, 2011 at 7:06 am

There’s a good chance I’ll be in or at least near the Warners in late May, so I’ll definitely be looking too.


Border Patrol May 10, 2011 at 4:50 am

Wolves are by this time probably heading west along the Siskiyou mountain range. Cant wait to see them, hear them and track them. Canus Lupus come on down the time is right.


bbaby May 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I have just seen a grey wolf off the Ukiah-boonville road a real beauty.May 27,2011


d October 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

That would be a coyote, not a wolf.


Mark Ostrom July 22, 2011 at 1:31 am

In 1958 I was with my family at Mumbo lake in the Siskiyous, we were having lunch while my Father and Grandfather tooled about the lake in a rubber boat fishing.. our dog Tuffy was hanging out looking for scraps from the lunch we were making…

Suddenly tuffy spun around and yipped, barked and ran under the car. Tuffy was half coyote and a very wild dog. He was whimpering and looking past us into a clearing next to the lake…

Turning around we were astounded to see a full grown Timber Wolf standing, calmly surveying our lunch. It was massive, beautiful and in full spring shed.

He watched us for maybe 3 minutes, my Mom scampering for a gun somewhere in the bowels of our car at my Dad’s urging from the rubber boat—

Then it turned and calmly walked back into the wall of timber concealing timber.

I was the last Californian to see this magnificent Wolf in our state..

You can Bet I can’t wait to see another!

This is WONDERFUL news!


Lee White December 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Not completely true, in 1980 I saw a wolf in Lassen County. And have sense seen a wolf twice in Nevada County.


ronnie September 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Hello, I have the 1st confirmed grey wolf picture in shasta county. They’re here. Email me for photo.


Bob September 26, 2011 at 8:49 am

Hello … I saw your message about having seen a wolf in Shasta County … we own a ranch just north of Shasta Lake … we are pro-wolf and would protect them if they made it to the ranch … In what part of the county did you see the wolf?

Thanks Bob


brittany November 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I spotted a wolf in Siskiyou County in 2001 or 2002 it has been so long now I can’t remember the exact date. I was driving to school we live about 3500 feet and it was the middle of winter, it was a hard winter that year with a lot of heavy snow in the Marble Mountain Range that is practically out our back door! I was driving down our dirt road when the gorgeous animal crossed the road in front of me. He was huge whith an almost perfectly white coat. He climbed the bank and entered some timber in a draw, about 30 yards off the road. He stopped and stared back at me just leaving his head and shoulders exposed the rest of him behind a tree. He slowly zig zagged up the hill occasionally glancing over his shoulder. He had a slow meandering, and confident trot as he finally dissapeared out of view. I hunt and fish and have seen many coyotes in the area, He was enormous in comparison, and had a much broader muzzle. At the time wild wolves in Northern CA were practically unheard of: Of course there were wild stories and myths in our area but nothing concrete.The only thing I could think of at the time was that perhaps he spent some time in the marble mountian range and that the heavy snow pushed him out following the deer and elk herds. I didn’t tell many people because they would’ve thought I had mistaken him for a coyote. When I read this article it reminded me of my encounter and I thought I would share. I’m still conviced it was a wolf. I have seen them in British Columbia and in Yellowstone in my travels since then. I sure hope I get a chance to see another one in Northern CA again in my lifetime!


CODENAME December 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I saw a pack of four wolves somewhere between Alturas and Canby, they were bigger than coyotes and walked like wolves. Two were colored like Mexican Wolves (like coyotes but with darker markings) and the other 2 were black.


Slim January 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I was has hunting coyotes in Lassen co near the nevada State border & modoc co. I crossed a big coyote track, it was about 3 times the size of track that I had ever seen except for the ones I saw in yellowstone. I know it was a coyote because the fish &game tell me so,just like they said there are no wolverines in California. When I pulled the trigger…….. One big dead coyote


HWC March 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I believe I saw two wolves on I-5, headed north near Castle Crags, CA. It was early in the A.M., about 4:30am on January 30, 2011. I rounded a corner and there were two magnificant wolves standing off the side of the road about 100 yards from the fwy. I was going slow and I thought at the time, “are those wolves or maybe they are someone’s Husky/wolf mix roaming around. Call me crazy, but my first thought was that I saw wolves, I feel forever changed by the experience.


Mark Ostrom March 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Just a comment from a Dunsmuir resident and the last person to see an un-tagged wild wolf in the Siskiyous in 1958:

This is all well and good, but there is only one wolf currently in California and he is a watched man. The local ranchers are TOTALLY against wolves and your report could start a stinking riot up here. You can track him HERE:


That being said; There are some domestic wolves in Dunsmuir, one of which is pure white and who’s owner lets it out about once every 2 nights to feed.

I have a friend who lives just up Castle Creek past the Railroad park; I’ll tell him to keep an eye out.

I hope you’re right and I hope you’re wrong. Get a picture!


Mark May 30, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Maybe that’s why there are no f-ing deer in lassen and modoc county. Or mabe it the dame horses that don’t belong there. What’s wrong with you people. You can’t have everything. Wolves don’t work in today’s world


Boon July 1, 2014 at 11:33 am

I saw a wolf in downtown Sacramento the other day. He was eating a green burrito at Taco Bell. He was having trouble holding it in his paws. Then he just licked his lips and loped off down Arden Way and disappeared into a grove of gang-bangers. A truly amazing experience. (By the way, if there are wolves in Nevada County they are there to eat the influx of zebras). I was deer hunting in the Plumas National Forest last season and a guy rode up to me on his 4wheeler and told me he had just seen two grizzlies. I think people should be more careful about their animal identification. There are some really big coyotes in N. California. Wolves? We’ll see. Hopefully yes!


Boon July 1, 2014 at 11:39 am

No deer in Lassen County due to wolves? I beg to differ. When wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone the deer population when way up. Turns out wolves like to kill coyotes, and the coyotes were killing all the deer fawns. So more wolves equals more deer (but perhaps fewer elk). Just like “buck only” hunting produces a deer population made up mostly of old does. Wildlife biology is not “intuitive” for the most part. It’s science. Public input usually just screws things up for the biologists trying to do the right thing.


mike July 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I see a lot of pro wolf talk here. Has any one looked at what wolves have done to big game populations and livestock in Idaho???? Check into that before inviting this super predator here


Robert September 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Wolves in ca. naa that’s what a game warden will tell you. However, my brother and I personaly seen two Albino wolves together with blood on their
necks on the way to Cherry Vally south of Sonora, ca. It was very late that night that we were driving home from a deer hunt, as I rounded a curve and confronted a wolf trotting on the road in the same direction. I was wanting to run him or her down but my brother grabbed the steering wheel and kept me from doing so. Anyways, as I drove along side the slow trotting wolf I could tell by the full moon that the animal was as tall as my window of my S-10 truck. It glanced at from time to time for the next 100 yd. plus and then, it turned left off the road as I backed up and shinned the lights in that area there stood it’s mate both stareing at us. Our guns being in the back of the truck all put away I could do nothing, so they just walked away to kill more of what ever they want to kill. I hunt coyotes and I know the differance.

When will the people in California wake up to the fact that Mountain Lions and Wolves are eating the deer, the farm animals, your pets and yes maybe
someday your child.


Jon January 17, 2016 at 11:36 pm

I saw wolf in the South Warner mountains coming from Patterson Lake area on a backpacking trip with my dog. I also saw a few years ago in the Yolo bolly wilderness very large footprints I was the first person on the trail spring time when Trail opened no other footprints it definitely was not a dog I was many miles out deep in the woods and I know these were wolf footprints along with huge scat that I found near the prints I think it’s really incredible wolves are coming back but I also feel they are very dangerous there has been a recent attack in Canada there was a reason why they rid California from wolves because of the danger i’m not saying they don’t belong here they do but they are very dangerous look what a domestic dog can do half the size of a wolf and these are wild animals that mostly hunt in packs they Circle around you and attack!!! I am an avid backpacker mostly solo with my dog I worry about bears sometimes mountain lions and I’ve seen a lot of both but now with wolves it does invite more danger to our wilderness since our wilderness areas are shrinking it’s not like Alaska a huge area we have very large wilderness areas here in California with small communities built all around them with many roads crossing the wilderness along with ranchers open range cattle Wolf coming in are going to change things. Adventures like myself will need to use more caution when in the wilderness now especially campers with small children and dogs.


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