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Karah Rawlings: Executive Director of Wolf Park

Wolf Park is an 100-acre nature facility in Indiana that is dedicated to conserving wolves and educating people about the vital role they play in the ecosystem. Visitors can see wolves in the wild, as well as many other animals, and reconnect to nature in an educational way. Wolf Park has tours, camps, seminars, and more to educate people about wolves and get people excited about wildlife. Learn more here!

Your mission is so unique– can you tell me about the importance of educating people about wolves?

Wolf Park has been around for over 50 years. We teach people about how wolves are apex predators and a keystone species, which means that if you remove a wolf from an ecosystem, a lot changes. Our goal is to get people involved in nature. Wolf Park started as a research facility, and now we are 100 acres of reclaimed Indiana farmland where people can learn about wolves and see them, and other animals, in person. Our founder studied animal behavior and had the idea to raise wolves from a young age so that they are still wild, but are socialized to being around humans. We’re able to observe their interactions, how packs form, how they breed, how they hunt, and more interesting behaviors.

Are there any misconceptions about wolves that you can dispel?

Wolves have a huge mythology around them and get a bad reputation, and part of our work is dispelling these myths and showing people how important wolves are in an ecosystem. In a lot of fairy tales, wolves are depicted as these big, bad creatures that are coming to eat you. In reality, wolves are not ferocious, slobbery beasts and don’t hunt humans. Wolves hunt out of necessity, not sport, and are very careful about being seen in the wild. Wolves are actually neophobic, meaning they are scared of anything new and are naturally averse to humans. Our facility is one of few places where people can see wolves in person because of their tendency to shy away from us.

What does your conservation and research work entail?

We study wolves' cognitive functioning and how they learn, which helps researchers learn about how wolves can coexist with human populations as society expands more and more into wild areas. We want wolves to stay averse to people, because if they start to develop new habits it will bring their population into danger. It was stated that wolves had reached “historic population levels” when they were removed from the endangered species list, but there is speculation about the accuracy of that. As a result, we are dedicated to conserving populations of wolves and ensuring they are being managed properly.

What can visitors experience at Wolf Park?

Our facility is a big stretch of prairie where visitors can see lots of animals. Besides wolves, we have bison, foxes, and eastern box turtles, and are hoping to add a coyote. Visitors have the opportunity to observe whatever animals are in the main area of the park. There are fences between you and the animals but otherwise it’s a pretty wild space. There are tours where we take you on a guided tour to see all of the animals we have and whatever wild animals are passing through. Our lake freezes over in the winter and you can see the wolves playing on the ice and in the snow, since they are the most active during winter. We have gardens to attract pollinators and we teach people about how they can rewild places that they live. People come here and fall in love with wolves, which is amazing to see.


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