Southern California environment news and trends

Rattlesnake bites on the rise across California

northern pacific rattlesnake

Photo by Natalie McNear via Flickr Creative Commons

It was just this past May when we were reporting that California’s rattlesnake season started early this year, with a good chance of larger population numbers. Now we’re learning that there has been a steep increase of rattlesnake bites across the state over the spring, up almost 50 percent from the same time last year.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, 184 rattlesnake bites were reported to the state Poison Control System between April and June of this year, compared to 124 in the spring of 2011. On average, there are about 300 rattlesnake bites reported to California Poison Control annually.

Just last week in Mission Viejo, a 6-year-old boy suffered an especially toxic bite from a Mojave Green rattlesnake near Camp Pendleton, and is still recovering.

“Rattlesnakes are more like us than we think,” said Katie Colbert of the East Bay Regional Park District to the Independent Journal. “They like to go out in good weather. They get grumpy in hot weather. They want food, shelter, family and to avoid predators, but they will strike out if they feel threatened.”


California’s lone gray wolf returns

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It really has been a long, strange trip for the wolf known as OR7 by wildlife managers. The animal first came to prominence back at the first of the year, when he became California’s first gray wolf since 1947, wandering over from Oregon. It was big enough news that Oregon Wild had a naming contest for it, resulting in the classic rock-inspired moniker, Journey.

High hopes that Journey would mate and restart the California gray wolf populated seemed to be dashed in early March, when unable to find a mate, the animal returned to Oregon. At the time, Russ Morgan, the wolf coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said there was still reason to keep hope alive.

"It's possible OR7 will cross back into California and be using areas in both states," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "While wolves crossing state boundaries may be significant for people, wolves and other wildlife don't pay attention to state borders."


California’s lone gray wolf: just visiting

Ingo Wagner/AFP/Getty Images

And then there were none.

After much exaltation, celebration and even some classic rock inspiration, California’s lone gray wolf has decided to turn tail and return to Oregon. Not that the wolf called Journey (AKA OR7) didn’t have a good reason. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the poor guy just couldn’t find a mate.

The animal has been tracked via radio collar for the past two months, and has wandered the Siskiyou, Shasta and Lassen counties, “likely searching for a mate to start his own pack.” When his search turned up empty, he began the lonely march back to his home state.

The animal’s lack of success was not for lack of trying. As reported by the L.A. Times, the wolf has traveled more than 2,000 miles since last September, which Karen Kovacs, a wildlife program manager for the California Department of Fish and Game, calls “just incredible.”