Wolf Haven conserves wolves through education

Lexi, a wolf at Wolf Haven. Photo Courtesy of Wolf Haven

In the small town of Tenino a couple hours away from Bellevue is Wolf Haven, a sanctuary for wolves and coyotes. On weekends throughout the year except for the Feb. breeding season, Wolf Haven gives out public tours. When I first heard about Wolf Haven, I was skeptical because visiting sanctuaries can be expensive – a sloth sanctuary in Portland charges over $100 per person for a visit – but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Wolf Haven would only put a ten-dollar dent in my student wallet.

The sanctuary itself was not the most sanitary. The only restrooms available were two extremely unclean portable toilets and a small gift shop. However, the employees there were very nice. They had one man running the cash register, a tour guide and another staff member telling the crowd facts about wolves while they waited.

All of the animals were behind a locked gate so people could not just walk in without a tour guide but even though they were out of sight, they still made it clear that they were nearby. A couple of minutes before the tour group was to head behind the gate, the tour guide walked up to me and my friends and told us in a chipper voice that we should go outside because the wolves were howling. When we stepped under the drizzling sky, we were delighted to hear a chorus of wolf howls reminiscent of cliche movies filling the air as well as a few cackles of the coyotes.

Once we were brought beyond the gate to see the wolves they quieted down. The tour guide explained that wolves are a lot more scared of humans than humans are of wolves and told the group fun facts about the wolves on the premises while we watched them roam around their enclosures. They had a full variety of wolves that they were taking care of, and in the case of the red wolves, breeding.

Wolves are used to being in packs of at least two so the people of Wolf Haven make sure that the two wolves they place together are compatible and will be happy together. Some wolves are endangered, such as the red and Mexican gray wolves, which are two types of wolves that Wolf Haven gives refuge to. Wolf Haven has been given permission to breed these wolves, and in 2015, they welcomed a full litter of adorable baby red wolves. In this situation, their enclosure consists of a mother and her three daughters.

All of the animals at Wolf Haven come from abnormal backgrounds. One wolf was rescued after being tormented on the roadside, and a coyote was given to Wolf Haven after he was in a horrible accident and became too accustomed to people to be able to survive in the wild. Most of the wolves were given to Wolf Haven after their owners decided wolves and wolf-dog hybrids were too difficult to have as pets. The tour guide who took the visitors through the park talked about wolf-dog hybrids and how many wealthy people try to have them as pets but are unpleasantly surprised by the outcome. Wolves are wild animals and they cannot be happy on properties without lots of land to roam.

Wolf haven allows visitors to “adopt” a wolf for a relatively small fee. Visitors can choose between several adoption packages of varying prices in exchange for a photo and biography of the wolf of their choice.The Watchdog staff decided to adopt a wolf by donating money and the process was quick and simple.

Wolf Haven is an incredible and unique place protecting animals that are often portrayed as evil and dangerous. In reality, wolves are more likely to run away than attack humans even in the wild. Wolf Haven does an incredible job of not only taking good care of the animals that need help but also spreading awareness about wolves. Like many other animals, wolves are misunderstood. There is a very big difference between wild and vicious and while wolves can flirt with that line it is important to remember that if you leave them alone and stay out of their way, they will give you the same courtesy.