In 1924, the last wolf in California was exterminated. This summer, these 5 pups were discovered.
In the 1920s, California decided to exterminate its wolves.
The government-funded plan, based largely on local fear of the animals and the concerns of ranchers, was, sadly, extremely successful.
The last wolf was eradicated from the state in 1924. Since then, not a single wolf pack has been sighted and reported in California.
Which is why California wildlife officials were mighty surprised to see this photo, taken earlier this summer, which shows five wolf pups hanging out in the state for the first time in 91 years.
"For us, it's really exciting," Jordan Trevino, a representative of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), told Upworthy. "This is historic wolf habitat, and we've been anticipating them coming back."
According to the CDFW, the pups in the photo are about four months old and weigh 35-40 pounds. Although a lone wolf passed through the state in 2011, this is the first time the appearance of an entire pack has been documented.
"They're in a really remote area that's a mix of private land and forest service land," Trevino said.
The good news: It's not just happening in California. Wolves have been making a big comeback all over the world.
Since they were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the mid-'90s, wolves have been thriving — and spreading out all over the American West. In Europe, restrictions on hunting have led to a significant population rebound across the continent.
There are still some concerns about what a wolf presence in California might mean.
Cattle ranchers and elk ranchers are worried about how the wolf resurgence could affect the safety of their livestock.
But for California's ecosystem, it's an all-too-rare piece of great news.
Studies of Yellowstone found a significant decrease in biodiversity following the elimination of wolves and grizzly bears from the park, and a corresponding increase following their reintroduction.
If the wolves continue to establish themselves in California, it could lead to a similarly positive outcome for the local environment.
Welcome back, wolves. Here's hoping you stick around.
Don't eat our cows, though.
Or we're going to have a problem.