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The Red Wolf Sanctuary, More Than Just An Organization

By: Emily Squance, Blogger

Located in Rising Sun, Indiana, The Red Wolf Sanctuary (RWS) preserves and protects a wide variety of animals. Even though each creature may come from all walks of life, they are all able to call this non-for-profit home. 

The Red Wolf Sanctuary was founded in 1979 on the mission of preserving North American wildlife. They hope that with their efforts in protecting and rehabilitating a wide variety of animals, they’ll allow future generations to have the same opportunity to help “save the living past for the future to enjoy”.

Wildlife biologist, Carlin Marsh, decided to volunteer at the sanctuary during her senior year of college in 2017. After graduation she moved to Washington State but quickly realized a piece of her will always be at the sanctuary. In the fall she decided to move back to Indiana and work at the facility full time. Marsh serves as one of few tour guides for the organization and strives to educate the public on the importance of protecting each and every species. 

Upon first glance you may be mesmerized by the miles of acres that overlook the private property. You are overwhelmed with a sense of peace and solidarity. Tourists are provided with an informative tour guide who drives guests around the property in an ATV. Throughout the ride you will drive past a variety of animals who all have unique, unsung stories that are just awaiting to be shared. 

The first animals you’ll meet are four red foxes who despite their size, have huge personalities. These gregarious creatures are incredibly social and will never fail to show guests their charming smile. Occasionally if they don’t feel like they’re getting enough attention they may let out a bark or two. Unfortunately, foxes are one of the most commonly traded animals in the fur trade. Typically it would take 15-40 foxes to make one fur coat. Luckily for these four carefree foxes, they were originally part of the fur trade but didn’t sell. Therefore they found their permanent home with the sanctuary. 

Often the most popular animals viewed at RWS are the wolves and bobcats. Currently the facility inhabits one bobcat who, like the foxes, was unfortunately part of the fur trade. For obvious reasons visitors aren’t able to touch the animals but regardless they always seem to leave an impression. After meeting gray wolves, EC and Sue, it reaffirms that wolves in fact do mate for life. Sue may be intimidating at first but once you get close enough to her you’ll quickly realize she is a lover. She can be found pressed up against the fence in hopes to get scratches from volunteers while her mate, EC, can be found guarding her from afar. 

Similar to the animals they look after, all the volunteers come from all walks of life as well. Even though each one is driven by their own unique passions, they all are highly educated on the animals they take care of. They form connections with each animal and many of them consider these furry friends as part of their family. 

“With the pets we bury them. If they were here and our animals they would get a proper burial,” Marsh says.

RWS isn’t just a non-for-profit, it is a tight knit community of down to earth people. The organization provides both internship and volunteer opportunities that allow people to grow in more ways than one. Director, M.E.D Paul Strasser, strives to work with people he not only considers co-workers as well as family. Strasser doesn’t fail to make a positive impression on every guest he interacts with. Aside from being incredibly educated and passionate about the animals he cares for, Strasser leaves both guests and volunteers laughing at the end of the day. He is witty and clever, always able to throw a joke or two into every conversation. Like many of the animals at the facility, he has a huge personality and maintains a light hearted work environment. 

“I have a few rules in life that I live by. The first one is adapt or die. The second one is that nobody is meaner than the person who has seen you naked. The third is big eats little. Finally the fourth is survival of the fittest,” Strasser says. 

Jokes aside, the RWS hopes to expose their visitors to the wonders of nature and of the wildlife that lives in their very own country. Strasser hopes that by creating the RWS he will be able to teach younger generations the importance of environmental conservation. 

“Their job is to protect what is left or it’ll be gone and they’ll have to tell their kids they screwed it up,” Strasser says. 

The RWS takes donations, specifically expired meat, from a variety of businesses around the area. However they are always advertising new ways guests can help out on their website and social media platforms. If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about the RWS and ways you can support them click here

Whether you have the opportunity to visit the non-for-profit or not, it has become vital that each generation does their part in protecting the environment around us. Try to be conscious of your actions and how they may affect the animals around you. 

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