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ISSUE 115 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/19/2002

A Conversational retreat

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 19, 2002

On Saturday, February 23, a group of 40 students from St. Olaf College made the time commitment to drive up to the Wildlife Science Center (WSC) in Forest Lake and attend a three-hour educational program. Jeff Schultz, a senior Biology/Studio Art major, organized this event, which was sponsored by both his honor house (St. John’s Environmental Awareness) and the Outdoor Recreation Club (ORC). Schultz, after thoroughly enjoying his experience at the WSC performing an academic internship there for the month of January, wanted to show people the excellent facility. The group gathered at the crossroads of Buntrock Commons at 10:30 a.m. in order to make it up to the WSC for the 12:00-3:00 p.m. program. The caravan arrived at the WSC promptly at noon, and the program began. Peggy Callahan, the director of the Wildlife Science Center, led the educational experience. Being a Carleton graduate, Callahan was excited to have a group come up from Northfield, even though they were from the “wrong” side of the Cannon River. The indoor portion of the program entailed a little bit of history of the complex and a brief description of the natural history of wolves – the WSC’s largest component of animals. The WSC was governmentally funded until 1990, at which time their funds dried up. The WSC was told to euthanize their inhabitants. Callahan refused to do this, and thus had to sustain the Center by non-profit means. She has successfully done this, and the Center is even planning on moving to another location with a larger plot of land. Currently, the WSC has raptors, bobcats, raccoons, New Guinea singing dogs, gray foxes, a coyote, and wolves (gray, red, and Mexican gray). The center is involved with research as well as education: they participate in a captive breeding program for the endangered red wolves, and work with the St. Louis Zoo in researching prolactin levels and semen freezing and transporting. The second half of the program, the group was able to slosh around on the sunny, yet wet, day. Callahan continued to educate the group as they walked from enclosure to enclosure. Then came the time for all to enter one&it was a pretty neat feeling. Callahan is very careful with her educational strategies and openly despises wolf-on-leash teaching programs. Letting the group into the pens might seem crazy for some people, but it is actually a better way to teach the “normal” behavior of wolves up close. The animals had enough space in their enclosure to still maintain a comfort zone. People were not sleeping through this part of class -- that is for sure! At the end of the day, Schultz and a couple other volunteers at the center brought out some of the birds of prey for Callahan to talk about. The group saw a long eared owl, a screech owl, an American kestrel, and a Krieder’s red tailed hawk. Overall, the group enjoyed their adventure. They learned much about the animals at the facility, and had time to observe some typical behaviors, also (including a howl!). The Wildlife Science Center is a great place – if interested, see the webpage or call (651) 464-3993.

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