BY J. HARRY JONES, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
JOHN GASTALDO / UNION-TRIBUNE
The California Wolf Center is home to several packs of gray wolves, some of which are exhibited for educational purposes. On a recent morning, both Mexican Gray wolves and Alaskan Gray Wolves were out in their enclosures.
JULIAN — About four miles south of Julian, well east of state Route 79 in an area you would need to know where you’re going to reach, wolves wander.
The nonprofit California Wolf Center has been home to gray wolves for more than three decades.
“We call ourselves an education, conservation and research facility,” said Erin Hunt, general manager.
“We educate the public on a daily basis. We have schools come out. We have youth groups come out, and we have public tours on the weekends.”
The center specializes in Mexican gray wolves, one of the rarest land mammals on Earth. Only 42 are known to be living in the wild, though once, before they were largely eradicated by humans to protect livestock, they roamed a large area of Mexico and the southern United States.
“Wolves are very beneficial to the environment,” Hunt said. “Many species in the ecosystem depend on them and benefit from their presence. They will put food on the ground for other predators and scavengers. They are prey animals and keep the herds moving which prevents overgrazing, which prevents erosion and decline of plant life.
“This is a place devoted to increasing public awareness and understanding of all wildlife by focusing on the history, biology, behavior, and ecology of the gray wolf.”
The center breeds Mexican gray wolves to be introduced back into the wild, and often hosts researchers who want to learn more about the wolves’ behavior. The subspecies has been reintroduced to the wild in a small area on the eastern border of Arizona and western border of New Mexico known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.
Sixteen Mexican gray wolves are at the center; four of them are on partial public display. Those four are 6-year-old sisters whose bloodlines are already represented in the wild and therefore are not likely to be bred. …
Click Here to read the rest of this story, published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on June 26, 2010.
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