APEX PROTECTION PROJECT NEWS
ILLINOIS FUR FARM WOLF RESCUE:
APEX SUPPORTS WOLF CONNECTION’S RESCUE OF THREE WOLFDOGS BRED AT AN ILLINOIS FUR FARM
When the phone rang at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, it was Officer Scott Wright who answered the call. Animal control was calling with a situation regarding a fur farm that was neglecting its animals, including wolfdogs and foxes. Officer Wright went to the farm to assess the situation. Upon seeing the condition of the farm and the animals, and finding the farm unlicensed, Officer Wright seized the farm and immediately began looking for a solution. The last thing he wanted was to have to put the animals down, so he set to the task of finding safe haven for them.
Officer Wright first reached out to colleague Scott Ballard who was filling in for the endangered species program manager at the time. Mr. Ballard is a Division of Natural Heritage biologist and herpetologist (reptile specialist). Neither man had any experience with wolves, but they decided to tackle the situation together.
Mr. Ballard was able to contact his resources in the USDA and the zoo industry to get the ball rolling. Once the ball began rolling, it picked up a momentum that neither man ever expected. In gathering the information for this article, we tried to research everyone involved in this incredible rescue. We want to apologize if there is anyone who contributed, but isn’t mentioned here. Once the word was out, the wolf and wolfdog community across the country quickly and passionately united to help. Officer Ballard said he’d never seen anything like it. He was amazed, impressed, and really grateful.
Right away, a zoo in Texas offered to take 7 of the wolfdogs and a large sanctuary in Washington offered to take two. That left 8 and the euthanasia date was quickly approaching. Then Mr. Ballard was put in touch with Oliver Starr, a wolf advocate and educator on the west coast, as well as Susan Weidel, the Rescue Coordinator at W.O.L.F. Sanctuary in Colorado. Both Susan and Oliver, became integral parts of the rescue, using every resource available to them. Susan was able to take one of the wolfdogs to W.O.L.F. and continued searching diligently for safety for the others. Oliver reached out to his Facebook community including Paula Ficara of Apex Protection Project who is also a volunteer at Wolf Connection in Los Angeles County. She immediately brought it to their attention. At that time, Wolf Connection wasn’t confident that they would be able to help because of the distance, but were open to the possibility if help was needed.
As the wolf community continued to work at finding the last 7 wolfdogs sanctuary, veterinarian Matt Allender of the University of Illinois drove over 4 hours round trip and donated much of his time to make sure all of the wolfdogs had their rabies shots, vaccines, and health certificates so they could travel. And Michigan wolf advocate Amy Gotursix Wright contacted Brenda Pearson of the Michigan sanctuary Howling Timbers, telling her of the situation. Luckily they had room and were able to take four. Three were left.
Days passed and no one could find a home for the three remaining wolfdogs. Officer Wright and Mr. Ballard were becoming concerned that they would have to be euthanized. That’s when Wolf Connection realized they needed to step in and rescue them. The only problem was that the journey would take some planning and fundraising, and WC was working against the clock. Susan stepped in, contacting her rescue colleagues, Jayne and Mike Belsky of The Grey Wolf Central WI Wolfdog Rescue in Wisconsin to see if they would be willing to foster the pups until WC could drive out and get them. Jayne said that although they wouldn’t be able to keep them, they would be more than happy to foster them. She and Mike even drove to Illinois and picked the last three up themselves. The three girls have been staying in a beautiful enclosure at Grey Wolf for the last couple of weeks. Until now, they’ve never had any human contact or exposure to trees or feeling the earth under their feet. Jayne says their curiosity is marvelous. She’s kept the community updated with short videos of the girls exploring and playing in their new surroundings.
The rescue team, including Apex’s Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell (who is WC’s Lead of Operations), will be driving out on the 31st this month to pick the girls up. It’s an estimated $4000 rescue with all travel expenses and vet bills (all three girls will need to be spayed and receive proper vaccines, etc.) and we need your help. Please join Wolf Connection’s largest rescue yet, and make a donation towards the rescue by clicking below. We thank you and our new girls thank you.
THE GIRLS WAITING FOR THEIR FOREVER HOME
AT WOLF CONNECTION