Working With Wolves
Jill Rennicke, Alumni Coordinator

From deep in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains comes the sound of howling wolves -- feeding time at W.O.L.F. (Wolves Offered Life and Friendship) Sanctuary. Located just outside of Fort Collins, Colorado, this non-profit facility has since 1995 offered "permanent, life-long sanctuary" in natural habitat enclosures for up to 30 wolves and wolf-dogs at a time and doing the feeding today is CS12 Alum, Miranda Ulrichs, an intern this summer at W.O.L.F. "The day starts with feeding the wolves kibble for breakfast, Miranda says describing her daily chore. "You need to follow a food chart and make sure each of the 30 wolves gets the appropriate amount and kind of kibble." And, it is not just the right amount and type of food that Miranda has to keep track of but which wolves get fed in what order. "Some need to be fed at the same time so they don't try to eat the others food," she says, "and you need to be fast about it with the higher leveled wolves."

Each year, sanctuary officials say, the facility receives inquiries from all over the United States and internationally about wolves and wolf dogs in need of a rescue. "Unfortunately, the captive bred wolf and wolf dog crisis is enormous," says their website. Although not currently open to the public, the organization has developed a series of offsite educational presentations with the goal of bringing awareness about wild wolves to the general public while shedding light on the issues involved in keeping wolves (and other wild animals) as pets.

Miranda believes deeply in the mission and calls her work at the sanctuary important. "Without the sanctuary, these wolf dogs would have very short lives and the sanctuary gives them a second chance to live a somewhat wild and fulfilling life."

There are plenty of chores besides feeding -- cleaning pens, painting, maintenance of the enclosure, and public outreach - but it is all worth it, Miranda says, when you see the wolves and wolf dogs happy and enjoying their natural habitat enclosures. Her favorite time is involves actually being in the enclosures with the animals. "Wolves here are leveled on how friendly they are with people," she says, "but they do not play by human or dog rules and could still hurt you if you do not know how to act around them. Volunteers and Interns all have levels themselves and you start out as level zero which means you need to be accompanied by a high level to all the enclosures. You level up with how many hours you are there."

Interning with W.O.L.F. means long hours of hard work, she says "but being in the enclosures and being able to be close to them makes it all so worth it."

For more information on the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary and to offer support visit their website at http://wolfsanctuary.co