BY JUSTIN KING
The Seacrest Wolf Preserve is the largest wolf preserve in the Southeastern United States and is licensed by the State of Florida and the United State Department of Agriculture. The mission of the facility is to help foster a better understanding of wolves among the public and help facilitate research and training. The preserve instructed Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissionin 2008.
“We responded with several people at sundown, and it was then they made the decision to euthanize the wolf.”
However, this journalist has obtained a collection of internal Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission documents in which Investigator Jerry Shores issues a sworn statement indicating that the decision to kill the wolf was made the first day officers arrived on scene, not 4 days later. In his narrative of May 2nd he said,
“Lt. Bartlett told me that the decision had been made to euthanize the wolf.”
The documents also indicate that Fish and Wildlife was informed that the wolf was part of the rare British Columbian subspecies in the first phone call reporting the missing animal. At no point during any of the sworn narratives by Fish and Wildlife officers in the document cache does any officer indicate Chaco behaved aggressively. To the contrary, the documents indicate that any time the wolf spotted an unknown human, he ran away.
Cynthia Watkins of the Seacrest Wolf Preserve is outraged by the actions of the officers. She said that she saw officers every day during the search and they never informed her that they intended to kill Chaco. She stated she was under the impression they would try to tranquilize the wolf and bring him home safely.
Seacrest Wolf Preserve has started an online petition demanding action from Governor Rick Scott over the mishandling of the incident.