Wolf Shot Near a Chipley Elementary School - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Wolf Shot Near a Chipley Elementary School

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A Natural Disaster results in one wolf being shot, and a preserve in Washington County is left to pick up the pieces and move on. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called nearly a week ago to help find two missing wolves. One made it's way safely back to the reserve while the other wolf's life ended near an elementary school. Sunday evening FWC put the safety of the public first leaving some to praise while others question their actions.

 Seacrest Preservation feels betrayed by the FWC for actions they took Sunday evening. After searching for an alfa wolf named Chaco for three days, they spotted the animal 15 miles north of the preserve near Kate Smith Elementary School. With school starting the following day and officers out of range for a tranquilizer dart Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Spokesperson, Stan Kirkland, says they had to make a decision to protect the public, "The last thing we wanted to do was kill the animal. But we would be responsible and there would be a lot of questions asked why we didn't go ahead. Parents would be upset about a wolf being on campus and so that’s unfortunately why the decision was made unfortunately to kill the animal."

FWC spent three days near the preserve in Chipley searching for the missing British Columbian Wolf. Seacrest Wolf Preserve was devastated by last weeks rain event and flooding caused multiple dams to break on the property taking down fences and destroying wolf habitats in it's path. The preserve is home to 32 pure bread wolves and two escaped the property due to the dam breaking. Preserve founder, Cynthia Watkins, is mourning the loss of her animal and feels the FWC did not communicate with her when the wolf was spotted and killing the wolf was wrong, "This is an unthinkable act perpetrated on Chaco that has taken the life of a very rare specimen that deserved to be captured humanly and brought back to the preserve. We were totally kept in the dark because their game plan from day one was to shoot this wolf."

Volunteers are out working to clean up the preserve and repair damaged habitats from the flood event. Kirkland says while FWC never looks to kill an animal, public safety is always top priority.