Endangered gray wolf that wandered 8,712 miles looking for a mate or another pack found dead in California

An endangered gray wolf that wandered almost 9,000 miles while looking for a mating partner or another pack was found dead on Wednesday, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. `

The wolf had been equipped with a radio-tracking collar and was given the designation OR-54, The Associated Press reported. It was estimated to be between 3 and 4 years old. The wildlife agency was unable to determine the exact cause of death.

In 2018, another endangered wolf, with the designation OR-59, was found dead after being shot. That death is also unresolved.

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It is illegal to take, shoot, injure or kill gray wolves due to their endangered status. The federal crime carries a penalty of up a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.

The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity said fewer than 12 wolves are known to be alive in the state now.

Amaroq Weiss, a West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, told The AP that the wolf recovery in California has experienced a major setback with the death of OR-54.

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“This is a tragic development for the early stages of wolf recovery in California,” she said.

“Like her dad, the famous wolf OR-7 who came to California years ago, OR-54 was a beacon of hope who showed that wolves can return and flourish here. Her death is devastating, no matter the cause," Weiss added.