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About the California Wolf Center

Our Organization

The California Wolf Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to wolf recovery in the wild. Founded in 1977 to educate the public about wildlife and ecology, the physical center near Julian, CA is home to several packs of gray wolves. Through the years we have grown into a state-wide organization striving to pave the way for the return of wolves in our state. Among our resident wolf packs located in Julian, CA are highly endangered Mexican gray wolves, now being reintroduced into the southwestern United States. We play a critical role in the recovery of the Mexican gray wolf, one of the rarest land mammals in the world. Learn more about visiting our conservation center and our resident wolves here. We strive to provide complete and balanced information about gray wolves and the environment to the public so that people can make informed decisions about the issues that affect us all.

Our Mission

Gary Boreland

Photo Credit: Gary Borland

The California Wolf Center is dedicated to the recovery of wolves in the wildlands they once roamed. We envision a landscape where wolves thrive in healthy ecosystems and wolves and people successfully coexist.

We accomplish our mission through:

  • Conservation: partnering with stakeholders to implement proactive solutions that enable wolves and people to successfully share the landscape and leading the way in endangered species recovery programs.
  • Education: increasing awareness and understanding of wolves through engaging educational programs and public outreach.
  • Research: studying wolves' biology, behavior, and history in California.
  • Our Vision

    Wolves once roamed North America in countless numbers. Despite their important ecological role, and posing no real threat to humans, wolves were hunted nearly to extinction in the lower 48 United States. Today in the U.S., the haunting melody of a howling wolf pack is heard in only a handful of states, as wolves have been exterminated from a vast majority of their original range.

    By learning factual information about wolves, people come to understand that this highly social and intelligent animal also plays a key role in the functioning of a healthy ecosystem, and we learn to coexist with an animal we once feared. This new understanding deepens our appreciation of and our sense of stewardship towards wolves and other species and the habitats they need to survive. Our survival depends on theirs, and their survival depends on our decisions and actions.

    California Wolf Recovery Efforts

    Bonnie Mcdonald

    Photo Credit: Bonnie McDonald

    The California Wolf Center is excited to celebrate the beginning of the return of gray wolves to California. This is an opportunity to restore a native, keystone predator and iconic symbol of wilderness to our state, after being absent for decades following extirpation by humans.

    To prepare for the return of wolves, we are working to forge a new path for wolf recovery in California that focuses on solutions, instead of the conflict that has often pervaded wolf recovery elsewhere. Because human-caused mortality is the leading cause of death for gray wolves, human tolerance and acceptance of sharing the landscape with wolves is perhaps the single most important factor in safeguarding wolves' road to recovery. You can support these important efforts by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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    Through education programs, public outreach, partnerships with agencies and other conservation groups, and developing relationships with stakeholders in communities where wolves will first return, the California Wolf Center is building the foundation of support and tolerance that will allow wolves to thrive in California. Focusing our efforts in northern California, where wolves will first enter the state, since OR7's entry we are:

  • Reaching thousands of people through public outreach and education programs to provide information about wolves, including by bringing in outside experts from the Northern Rockies to speak on how to coexist with wolves
  • Offering our expertise as a member of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's stakeholder group convened to develop a wolf management plan
  • Serving as a steering committee member for the Pacific Wolf Coalition, a group of organizations working towards a common goal of wolf recovery in the Pacific Northwest
  • Building relationships with communities who have concerns about wolves' potential impacts on livestock, in order to partner on projects to reduce these conflicts once a wolf population becomes established
  • Supporting legal protections for wolves to ensure they have the best chance at recovery
  • The California Wolf Center has years of experience supporting proactive, non-lethal methods to prevent conflicts between livestock and Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest. Our approach of partnering with stakeholders to find common ground and advance solutions has proven to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts and thereby directly support wolf recovery. Building on these successes in the Southwest, we are working to make non-lethal conflict reduction methods a part of the solution in California from the start.

    For more information on wolf recovery in California and how you can help make it a reality, click here. If you'd like to download a copy of information on wolf recovery in California, click here.

    Our Team

    STAFF:

    Erin Hunt, Director of Operations: It has always been important to me to make a difference in the world around me, and I know that when I come to work at the California Wolf Center I have a direct impact on wolf recovery in the wild. I feel connected and inspired, and I am constantly reminded that I can be a force for positive change as part of this dedicated team.

    Chelsea Davis, Animal Curator: It is a dream to be part of Mexican wolf recovery, coming from near extinction, and to learn more about wolf biology, ecology and conservation in California and beyond.

    Christina Souto, Associate Director of Development and Communications: The California Wolf Center is an organization I dreamed of being involved with. The work I get to do on a daily basis helps wolf recovery in the wild; it does not get better than that!

    Heidi Pankratz, Conservation Associate: I love working for an organization that is deeply involved with helping wolves recover and I love going to work every day knowing that I am making a difference for wolves.

    John Murtaugh, Program Coordinator: Wolf recovery has been a passion of mine since first learning of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995. Being able to commit myself daily to the future of this iconic species is a dream fulfilled and I am thrilled to be a part of the California Wolf Center's mission!

    Karin Vardaman, Director of California Wolf Recovery: I am inspired to be a part of such a wonderful organization that makes a difference for wolves and our natural world each and every day.

    BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

    Norm Switzer, DVM

    Chairman of the Board, Executive Director

    Profession: Veterinarian, Partner at Midland Animal Clinic

    Daniel Moriarty, PhD

    Profession: Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, University of San Diego

    Patrick Valentino, JD

    Director of Public Relations

    Profession: Partner, VLP Law Group LLP (San Francisco)

    Helen Vanderswag

    Secretary

    Profession: Clinical Research Nurse/ Registered Nurse

    Pam Howard

    Membership Coordinator

    Profession: Teacher and Guidance Counselor

    Hayes Anderson

    Profession: Retired Educator

    Kim Carey

    Director of Volunteers

    Profession: Retired Legal Specialist

    Brett Carey, MBA

    Chief Financial Officer

    Profession: Corporate Finance, Qualcomm

    Robert Cisneros

    Profession: Animal Care Supervisor, Collections, Husbandry, Science, San Diego Zoo; Vice President of the American Association of Zoo Keepers

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