Wolves at Our Door goes to states with rebounding wolf numbers
Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 225
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wolves have undeniably begun to reclaim portions of their historic range in the western United States. As their numbers in the western U.S. quickly grew after being reintroduced at Yellowstone National Park 24 years ago, education about these predators hasn’t always kept pace. The International Wolf Center is reaching out to help.
Without question, a great many organizations based in the western United States have worked to educate the public about wolves. But this problem is greater than any one organization can solve, so the International Wolf Center is expanding its popular Wolves at Our Door program to those western states.
The program educates more than 15,000 students in Minnesota every year. Now, the Center is teaching partnering organizations how to launch the program and share it with schools in their states. Two training sessions have been held with these organizations, including one in Ely, Minnesota, and Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, from June 10-13.
During that session, representatives from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in Oregon and Museum and the Sequoia Park Zoo in California were flown to Minneapolis and then driven by the Center to Ely. Over the next three days, those representatives got a full wolf education by retired Wisconsin wolf biologist Dick Thiel, as well as background on the program by the Center’s Outreach Director, Misi Stine. The group returned to the Twin Cities for further education with renowned wolf biologist Dr. Dave Mech, who founded the Center in 1985.
“There’s no question that many of those who live in the western United States have strong opinions about wolves,” said Chad Richardson, the Center’s Administrator. “For some, those opinions aren’t formed from facts but rather are formed from myths and fears. We’re trying to change that with these programs, which are based wholly on science.”
The Center has a unique aim, which is focused on advancing wolf populations by teaching the world about wolves. It presents many sides to the wolf debate during its Wolves at Our Door program and encourages attendees to make up their own minds about wolves, only after hearing the science-based facts.
“As I’ve traveled around Minnesota to present these programs, I’ve found two sources of misunderstanding,” said Stine, the Center’s Outreach Director. “When I speak to school children, their only exposure to wolves has typically been through fairy tales. When I speak to adults, many have formed their opinions based on what they heard in a 20-second newscast or through an exaggerated report on the evening news. So many people just don’t have the facts to support their strong opinions. Hopefully we can continue to fix that.”
Future training sessions are being planned by Stine involving organizations in the western United States.
The Western Wolves at Our Door project is funded with two grants, including one from The Margaret A. Cargill Fund at the Minnesota Community Foundation.
The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org