In the past, wolves have acquired the false reputation of being bloodthirsty, vicious, wild animals. Unfortunately, these notions have lead to the near extinction of the species throughout the United States. This August, through the Cottonwood Institute’s Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking course, students had the opportunity to discover just how false these stereotypes are by getting up-close and personal with a group of wolves.
Located at the base of the beautiful Sangre De Christo Mountain Range in southern Colorado, there is an unique wolf sanctuary called Mission: Wolf. Dedicated to educating the public about wolves, Mission: Wolf houses a pack of 40 wolves that were born in captivity. Lead by instructors Steve McCue, Eric Ellision, and Brittany Salley-Rains, the students of the Cottonwood Institute set up camp near by to the Mission. Over the course of seven days the students helped to complete the final stages of a 20+ acre playpen for the wolves, participated in smaller daily feeds and helped with a big feed where the wolves were given the raw meat from an entire cow. Back at camp, the group learned and practiced outdoor survival skills, including methods of making fire, collecting water and animal tracking. Some of the work and activities were challenging, but the students worked as a team to become effective problem solvers and overcome all obstacles.
Co-Instructor Eric Ellison had only positive things to say about the course.
“I think this group got a lot of new knowledge and cool experiences this summer, things they can go back and tell their friends about. More so, they learned about themselves and how to function as a team and to take confidence in their ability and take on the daunting. I say that there are a few experiences that the Cottonwood Institute offers that are real “life changers.” One of them is the blind drum stalk, and another is looking down a wolf’s snout into those big, golden eyes.”