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Wolf Education At Its Finest

Below is an article I came across writing about the Colorado based organization Mission: Wolf.  They tour around the county educating kids and adults on the true facts about wolves.  They also speak about the over 250,000 wolf and wolf dog hybrids in the US that are kept as pets and the dangers an owner and the wolf dog hybrid can face.  This is an amazing example of wolf education at its best.  I will be following this organization and updating everyone on what they are doing from time to time.  Please visit their website to learn about other great things they are doing: missionwolf.com.

 

SCITUATE – Like typical rock stars just off the tour bus, Abraham, Zeub and Magpie strolled into the school gym cool as could be.

The school population gasped. A low stir rumbled through the crowd.

Magpie, after looking around, yawned.

The other two checked out the audience. They even lapped at a few faces. More gasps.

It’s hard to say who was better behaved when the Colorado-based Mission: Wolf education tour made its only Rhode Island stop at Scituate High School/Middle School on Wednesday.

The students were perfect and so were the three wolves circling the gym, on a mission to instill respect and understanding about wild animals and perhaps encourage better understanding of the role a wolf plays in the ecosystem.

More than 400 middle school students, joined by the high school’s FFA members, were treated to the traveling program at the suggestion of their principal, Michael Zajac, who had witnessed the tour at another school. Joan Selfridge, FFA advisor, and a teacher, devoted months to arranging to have the wildlife education organization stop in Scituate during their six-week tour.

“We’ve been studying wolves and watched the introduction of the wolves back into Yellowstone,” Selfridge explained, referring to the reintroduction of grey wolf packs to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho staring in 1995. More than 70 years earlier, the last wolves were killed within Yellowstone, and as a result elk populations grew, and certain vegetation suffered, noted Tracy Brooks, who along with Kent Weber, brought the program they founded to Scituate.

“We were so fortunate to get them to come here,” Selfridge said.

Selfridge arranged for certain students and teachers to participate as “wolf teachers,” sitting on the gym floor in proximity to the animals. She was among those whose face was lapped calmly by a wolf.

“She was a nice wolf. No, I wasn’t scared,” Selfridge said. “I was delighted.”

Chorus director Christine Johnston was also personally greeted by the wolves as she sat on the gym floor.

“They are beautiful, mystical animals that are obviously misunderstood or they would not be killed by man as they have been over the years. I believe that the man (Weber) who brought the wolves is doing the world an incredible service by educating us – young and old to the power and grace of these amazing animals,” Johnston noted.

Weber offered a half hour educational introduction before allowing the wolves into the gym, explaining wolf behavior and discouraging the practice of keeping wolves as domesticated animals.

“Wild animals do not make happy pets,” he told them.

Brooks, who tended the wolves while Weber spoke, said many people try to take in wolves as pets and it “works out when they are babies but when they become mature, they begin to tear up the house. They are incredibly destructive. They have no concern for personal items. It’s instinct.”

At that point, often the animals are abandoned, or brought to the wolf sanctuary in Colorado. But they can’t take all the animals that are brought to them.

Despite the long program introduction, the students shushed each other if the noise level in the gym started to accelerate.

SHHHHHHHHHH mixed with the click, click, click of cameras, as the wolves cautiously made their way into the gym.

“They are very, very intuitive,” Weber explained of their reactions to humans.

 



The wolves rolled around, paws to the ceiling, scratched themselves liked dogs. They sniffed around hands and faces and in so many ways looked like dogs, but in the end, encouraged by Weber and the students, they howled like the wolves that they are. But unlike movie sound effects, this howling sounded naturally normal.

What did the students learn?

“Wolves aren’t house pets,” said FFA member Emily Warner, 17, a junior.

“Wolves can eat six pounds of meat in two minutes,” said Peter Cugini, 15, a sophomore, also in the FFA.

Chris Parrillo, 15, also a sophomore FFA member, said – with an incredulous look of admiration – that he learned that “Weber has 52 animals.”

“It was a reward for the kids for the work they’ve done and just for the experience of it,” said Principal Zajac.

“It is a chance to expose them to an incredible animal and to understand nature and to understand society. It also shows respect. Respect is vital to the success of anyone.”

Zajac said the students “are a credit to their teachers. The students were wonderful. When you expose kids to certain expectations, it gives them a sense of excitement.”

The Scituate Middle School student council and the FFA helped with the financial support of the program, which included obtaining a license from Rhode Island Fish and Wildlife.

Applause at the conclusion of the program was resounding, and one young woman ran out to the lobby, watching as the wolves climbed back on the tour bus, asking the organizers for contacts should she decide to study wolves as a school project.

The Mission: Wolf team headed off to several stops in New York, then Kansas and back to Colorado by Nov. 10 to remain for the winter on the refuge.

According to information provided by Weber, “there are 250,000-plus wolves and wolf-dog crosses living in captivity as exotic pets in the U.S. alone. Due to their wild and independent nature, as many as 75 percent of these pets do not survive beyond their first few years in captivity. Those that do survive often end up homeless. Mission: Wolf now provides a peaceful home for up to 30 of these captive-born grey wolves and wolf-dog crosses.

“Mission: Wolf receives an average of four requests each week to take in a homeless animal. We cannot provide shelter to every request and have turned away over 6,000 animals.”

To see the full article which includes video clips CLICK HERE

For more information on the program, check www.missionwolf.com .

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