The California Wolf Center in San Diego County advocates for a return of wolves to their natural habitats and for responsible ranching in which ranchers act as stewards of the wilderness, protecting land from development and benefitting wolves through grazing practices that support open spaces. The Wolf Center is headquartered in Julian, with a second northern California location in Greenbrae.
The Julian, California location is home to a number of Mexican and North American gray wolf packs. Guests can meet wolves that are not suitable for release into the wild through educational programming and exhibits. As a participant in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan, the center breeds and rehabilitates Mexican gray wolves. The wolves live away from the public exhibits in spacious habitats that help prepare them for release into the wild via Mexican gray wolf recovery areas in either Arizona or New Mexico.
At least eight of the resident wolves participate in educational programming with the hope that the interaction between the wolves and visitors fosters learning and understanding and promotes conservation efforts. North American gray wolves who meet the public include Ketchikan, a 13-year old male who is shy around humans, but dominant within his pack. Inuk, also a 13-year old male, is a playful wolf often observed on tours. Kiana is a 13-year old female who is very curious around humans and often comes out to greet tours. Wintu was born at the Wolf Center in 2013 and is often seen playing with others in his pack. Among the Mexican gray wolves are M863, a 14-year old male who was born in captivity at New Mexico’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility and has been at the California Wolf Center since 2008. F1046 is M863’s bonded female companion. She was born in the wild, but transferred to the Wolf Center along with her mother and M863. She has successfully raised 2 litters on site, helping to prevent the extinction of the Mexican gray wolf. Milagro is a 3-year old pup, a survivor from F1046 and M863’s second litter.
History: The gray wolf is a native species of California, but was eradicated in the early 1900’s after a government campaign to exterminate the threat to livestock. In 2011, one lone wolf from Oregon crossed into California through the northern border and found a mate. It was confirmed that this wolf, the first to step foot in California since 1924, now has three pups. After nearly a century of absence, the gray wolf was listed under the California Endangered Species Act in 2014. It is partially through this protection status that the California Wolf Center is able to do the work they do to bring awareness to the issue and promote the return of this native species to their natural habitat.
The California Wolf Center is a non-profit organization with a small, five person full time staff, managed by a five-member board of directors. Much of the care of the wolves relies on volunteers, while the center’s operations rely on memberships, donations and revenue generated from public and private tours.
Ongoing Programs and Education: All tours of the California Wolf Center require reservations. Public tours include ‘Wolf Recovery Today.’ The tour includes an educational presentation and a guided observation of the center’s two wolf packs. A similar ‘Wolf Pack Tour’ limits the group size, potentially allowing for guests to more closely observe the resident wolves. For an even more intimate experience, private tours may be arranged.
Off-site presentations take place within San Diego County, and include an educational presentation, followed by live-stream video of the wolves’ enclosures. Off-site presentations may be customized depending on the interests of the group. School groups are welcome on site and are presented with a special inquiry-based program that encourages curiosity and question asking.
Events at the Wolf Center include an annual fundraiser, held each October. The 2017 event celebrated the Center’s 40 years of wolf recovery. Funds are raised through ticket sales to the catered dinner, along with proceeds from a silent auction. A Holiday Member Party takes place each December. The member’s only event presents dynamic fundraising opportunities and includes a presentation on the Center’s annual report. Each year in January, the Center holds a 3-day course on wildlife handling for veterinarians and other wildlife care professionals. Topics for the hands on seminars vary each year.
K Q Ranch Rd & Tall Pine Rd, Julian, CA 92036, Phone: 760-765-0030