Wildlife Science Center (WSC), Stacey, MN, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for their unsafe facilities after several wolves escaped and died in May.
On May 27, WSC stole the only pup of a wolf named Iris to bottle feed and human imprint on. After the pup was raised by humans, it would be sent to the International Wolf Center to be used for publicity as an “ambassador animal.”
“We took the puppy away from Iris and it was too much for her to bear,” WSC said in a Facebook post.
Iris was so frantic over the loss of her pup that she began digging around her den, eventually digging out of her enclosure. She and several other wolves escaped.
The actual number of wolves that escaped is unclear. WSC waited days to notify the public of the wolves escape. They posted on Facebook that they immediately got back Iris and her son and daughter. They said three other wolves were loose which would bring the total number of escaped wolves to six.
The USDA reports that five wolves escaped. According to the USDA report:
One male wolf was recovered uninjured.
One male wolf was recovered but sustained an injury to its right front foot and is currently being treated by a veterinarian.
One male wolf has not been found. The wolf is presumed dead and may have been possibly shot by a local resident, although this has not been confirmed and the body has not been recovered.
One male wolf was hit by a car and had to be euthanized due to its injuries.
One female wolf was hit by a car and died immediately.
WSC was cited with two critical violations for their unsafe primary and secondary containment fences which failed to keep the animals safe. They were also cited with a noncritical violation for their lemur enclosure which did not have a perimeter fence.
“An enclosure that is unable to contain the animals may result in the animals escaping from the enclosure, potentially resulting in the animals getting injured, killed, or not being found …” the USDA report said.
In Facebook posts, the facility is now trying to justify their decision to steal Iris’ pup, leading to the death of three wolves.
“I believe that had we chosen to leave the single pup on Iris that she would have died when the den collapsed,” WSC said.
However, the facility failed to acknowledge that the reason the collapse occurred was because Iris was distraught and digging to try to find the pup they stole.
The facility claims to be breeding wolves to study for research. Perhaps they need to research the harm and aftermath of stealing an animal's babies.