Wolfing Around for Education

April 24, 2023

Wolves, in their haunting beauty and untamed wildness, are both a source of adoration and fear among people. At WolfWood Refuge, Paula Woerner and her team of volunteers provide experiences and opportunities for people to get up close with the animals that call the sanctuary home - ranging from full wolves and coyotes to animals that had to be surrendered due to inhumane conditions. One such educational event takes place annually at Purgatory Mountain Resort. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by The Payroll Department and Happy Pappy’s Pizza and Wings

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It's not every day that you head up to go skiing and are greeted by wolves. But for those visiting Purgatory this spring, that was the case one such day. Hosted by Wolfwood Refuge, people got a chance to get up close and personal with some of the animals that call the rescue outside of Ignacio home. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by The Payroll Department and Happy Pappy's Pizza-N-Wings. I'm Haley Opsal.

So we are a state and federally licensed rescue for wolves and wolfdogs. We don't breed them, we don't sell them. So I'll strictly rescue. Our animals will live with us for their whole lives. We've been rescuing now for 25 years, so I've been doing it a really long time. After rescue, which is our number one priority, we do education. And so that's what today's about, is doing education and awareness.

Wolfwood Refuge was founded by Woerner and aims to protect wolves and wolfdogs, and promote a better understanding of the animals and how they are not suitable pets. As Woerner explained, wolves treat humans like other wolves, meaning that sometimes the animals can be more rambunctious or rougher than humans are with each other.

So they're very physical with each other. They're very physical with us. You know, there's really no such thing as sit and stay. Also, they tend to treat children like puppies, right? And so, while it may be perfectly appropriate wolf behavior, may not be good for your two-year-old. So an even Xena here, who's God's gift to ambassador animals, even in a house, she'd kill your cat. She'd chew up your couch. She'd, you know, get on your table. They're just not meant to live under most circumstances with most people.

Education events like the one at Purgatory offer people the chance to get up close and personal with some of the wolfdogs and other animals that live at Wolfwood. On this particular day, the three ambassadors present included a high content wolfdog, a medium content wolfdog, and a husky. The variety and size, color and temperament is fairly obvious to the observer and that's partially the point, according to Woerner. Educational events like this one are meant to help inform people about wolves and wolfdogs and dispel myths about these animals.

You know, so many people think that wolves are going to hunt them down, and they just don't do that, you know? So we work really hard at, you know, trying to give them true wolf behavior, trying to show them the difference between wolves and dogs, trying to teach them, you know, all about wolves.

Wolfwood refuge, about 30 minutes outside of Durango, offers local tours for interested parties and its educational outreach programs. Call or email Woerner to schedule a tour to see the animals in their environment and learn more about the work Wolfwood Refuge and other similar organizations are doing. Learn more at www.durangolocal.news.com. Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Haley Opsal.


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