A wildlife preserve in Washington County was among many places hit hard with flooding in the past week, but no matter how sunny and dry it is now, the staff is dealing with the loss of more than just property. The Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley is mourning the loss of two of their wolves...one killed in the flooding and one that escaped.
"We lost one of our most beloved wolves, Forest, the kissing wolf, who loved all visitors and touched the hearts of everyone that visited Seacrest. But we lost Forest, he's buried under the mud slide", said Cynthia Watkins, owner of Seacrest. One beloved wolf gone forever and one missing for more than three days now. "And one of the rarest specimens in captivity, Chaco, he's escaped."
The dry and sunny weather has helped the staff start picking up the pieces, but the damage is far more than a quick fix. "The recent storm had a catastrophic effect on Seacrest, as you can see the dam broke here on the arctic enclosure where there was a large lake, and the flood swept through the center part of the entire 15 acres of habitat which is the heart of the wolf preserve, taking down fences and creating havoc and devastation in its wake", said Watkins.
But they will rebuild, using only volunteer labor and fixing only what they can afford, "we depend on donations and sponsorships and the generosity of donors to keep Seacrest up and running", said Watkins. The fence acts as a barrier to keep the different species of wolves separated, but in the British Columbia wolves enclosure, where Chaco was during the storm, the fence also acted as a border to the outside world to keep the wolves in and the snakes out.
"We have not been able to release all of the wolves back into the open enclosure, since the devastating flood we have been working around the clock to patch the cross fencing", said Watkins. But the staff and the volunteers at Seacrest will continue working to rebuild the only home the wolves have ever known. Watkins said, "most importantly, for the wolves their health their comfort and reproducing for them and beautiful serene habitat for them to live. That's our main goal."
Florida Fish and Wildlife Officials are looking for the missing wolf but he's not dangerous to people or other animals.