CHIPLEY - Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley is trying to pick up the pieces after severe flooding nearly destroyed the habitat earlier this month, and now the preserve needs the community's help to rebuild.
In addition to all the damage, "Chaco," a rare British Colombian wolf, escaped from his habitat after the torrential rains moved through the Panhandle during the first week of May. Co-founder Cynthia Watkins said, "It blew the fence flat and that's how Chaco escaped."
During the first 24 hours, the preserve used its own tracker who worked with Cynthia to find the four year old wolf. The found the wolf 3 miles from the preserve and Cynthia was able to feed it oral tranquilizers from her hand, but that was not enough to sedate the animal for transportation.
The next morning Watkins contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission agent in her area to ask for his assistance with a dart gun to humanely capture Chaco. Watkins says a group responded which she says spooked Chaco and may have caused him to remain hidden.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says their efforts to humanely capture Chaco spanned three days, from May 2-4th. When Chaco was spotted near Roulhac Middle School officials say it was out for concern for the safety of the public that FWC agents were authorized to shoot him.
"This has devastated myself and Wayne the founders of Seacreat Wolf Preserve, it has hurt our volunteers, it has changed our life forever," said Cynthia Watkins, Seacrest Wolf Preserve Inc., Founder.
The founders are now asking for the public's help in repairing Chaco's den, in memory of their late wolf. They say it'll take around $100,000 to rebuild the facility. They need heavy equipment, like bulldozers and cranes to get the preservation, back up and running like normal.
The preserve is 450 acres, so caretakers say they can use all the help they can get. Click on the link provided to donate.