CHIPLEY – Tragedy begets tragedy as the missing wolf, Chaco, was put down by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission late on the evening of May 4.
According to Stan Kirkland, Regional Media Officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission they received a call from the owner of Seacrest Wolf Preserve Cynthia Watkins on the evening of May 1, informing them that one of their wolves had gone missing after tragedy struck in the form of a flood/mudslide due to the over-abundant rains.
On May 2 Kirkland said they received a call that the wolf was spotted near Wausau and on Saturday night they said the wolf was spotted back at the preserve but Watkins was unable to place a collar on Chaco.
On May 3 they were still unsuccessful in capturing Chaco with live traps baited with hamburger, deer and dog food, according to Kirkland.
It was late on the evening of Sunday, May 4, when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation received the call from Washington County Sheriff’s Office informing them that an investigator spotted Chaco near Roulhac Middle School in Chipley.
“We responded with several people at sundown and it was then they made the decision to euthanize the wolf, knowing that the children would be returning to school on Monday morning,” said Kirkland. “We were retrieving the carcass for Mrs. Watkins when we had to assist with another wolf who was trying to get back into the enclosure. We were able to get the wolf safely back into the enclosure without harm.”
He said that Seacrest Wolf Preserve is a Class 2 Facility, permitting for wolves, who are a Class 2 species, however he said that the facility is currently under investigation.
According to Watkins, Sunday’s tragic event was a blatant act of murder.
“We’re struggling hour by hour to keep the wolves fed while fixing the enclosures,” said Watkins. “We’re also shocked and devastated by the murder of Chaco by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They lied to us, knowing he was headed toward Chipley they told us he was seen coming back to the preserve and that we should put out bait to lure him back in.”
She said someone living on Pioneer Road spotted the wolf and wanted to call the preserve. Because he couldn’t find the number he contacted both the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for the preserves contact information, according to Watkins’ account of the man’s story, and they had told him that they didn’t have the preserve’s contact information.
“They murdered him intentionally, telling us to come back to the preserve to bait him back in knowing he was headed north,” said Watkins. “They refused to catch him humanly and lied saying they had a live trap borrowed from the Red Wolf Preserve. When we got him back we could clearly see it was a text-book kill right through the heart which means he was standing still when they took the shot and not running away like they said he was.”
She said the preserve has been receiving calls from across the region and beyond from outraged wolf enthusiast and wildlife conservationists and would like to share the case number, FWNW140FF4545, for anyone else interested in “taking a stand.”
A funeral for Chaco was held eariler today, May 6.
Watkins said the facility is still in desperate need of donations, which includes manpower, supplies and monetary. Continue to the earlier story for more information on how you can contribute.
CHIPLEY – The recent heavy rains that have pummeled the Washington and surrounding counties led to a tragedy at the Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley.
Seacrest Wolf Preserve owner and operator Cynthia Watkins says the over abundance of rain caused the pond in the Artic Enclosure at the Seacrest Wolf Preserve to overflow, breaking the dam and causing a torrent of mud, water and debris to crash down the center of the 15-acre wolf preserve. The event took the life of one wolf and left another missing while causing thousands of dollars in damage for the non-profit organization.
“Chaco isn’t dangerous; he’s just not very acclimated to people,” said Watkins of the missing wolf. “We saw him last night, and we hope to lure him back in today. We also have the help of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.”
Volunteers from all around have been working day and night to repair the damage which is estimated to be around $50,000. Watkins stressed the preserve is relying on the generosity and compassion of volunteers to donate time, man-power, supplies and money to the cause.
“We will still be open for tours on Saturday,” said Watkins. “We’ve repaired the visiting area, and our ambassadors are up for visitors. Because we are completely non-profit, this is the only way we will be able to raise the money needed to repair the damage; through donations and tours.”
In addition to monetary donations, the preserve is in need of fencing and laborers. Materials needed include fencing measuring around 10 feet tall and 11 and 1/2 gauge fencing, which is the strongest gauge of fence, fencing posts, claps, wire, logs, rocks, dirt and concrete. Labor volunteers should be adapted to heavy labor because there are rocks and debris needed to be moved and removed .
Anyone interested in making a monetary donation can mail a check to: Seacrest Wolf Preserve; 3449 Bennett Pond Rd.; Chipley, Florida 32428 or donate through their website via PayPal at http://seacrestwolfpreserve.org/howtohelp.php.