Herald Staff Report
SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald file photo
For the first time, wolves are coming to Purgatory.
On Wednesday, six wolves from Wolfwood Refuge in Ignacio will be at the ski resort for a free educational day with patrons.
There will be a presentation about the animals, and visitors will be able to pet and interact with the refuge’s ambassador wolves – socialized wolves that can handle public interaction.
A state and federally licensed organization, Wolfwood has rehabilitated wolves and wolf dogs for 20 years. The refuge has 56 animals, most of which are severe abuse cases. Because they are socialized, they are not candidates for release.
But socialized does not equate to domesticated, said Wolfwood founder Paula Watson, and that distinction is part of the focus of Wednesday’s presentation.
“We explain they’re not vicious man-killers, or Disney animals,” Watson said. “Even our best ambassador, who works with autistic children – you can’t take her to a dog park. She’ll kill a cat in a second. She interacts with people, but they’re not set up to be in the living situation we’re in. Our living is not conducive to how they are. We have to adapt to life around them.”
The refuge routinely holds educational events for local groups including the La Plata Humane Society and Durango Nature Studies, but this will be Wolfwood’s first visit to the ski resort.
Matthew Krichman, the event coordinator at Purgatory, said Wolfwood is among his favorite local organizations and it was an obvious choice for the resort’s spring event series.
Vet bills for the older captives – the oldest, an Arctic wolf, is approaching 16 – generate most expenses at Wolfwood. Wolfwood merchandise will be for sale at Wednesday’s event, with 100 percent of proceeds returned to the refuge.
The wolves will be at the resort’s Village Plaza from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Watson’s presentation is set for 12:30 p.m.