Asheville – The Western North Carolina Nature Center plays an important role in saving animals from extinction. As part of its Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, the WNC Nature Center has had 13 red wolf pups born into their care. Their current American red wolves, Karma and Garnet, are four years old and were matched as a breeding pair by the program. There is high hope for this coming spring when the breeding season begins. There are a total of 13 pups is in the Nature Center’s history. Most recently, 4 pups were born in May 2012 to their former red wolves, Mayo and Phoenix. All these red wolves were moved to other facilities as part of the ongoing Species Survival Plan.
Recently the Cadettes of Girl Scout Troop 1819 out of Polk County began a journey to help save the critically endangered American red wolf. The Girl Scouts decided they wanted to work toward their Silver Award in 2021 by assisting in the education and awareness of the plight of the American red wolf.
In December the girls were able to visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center. Candace Poolton, Community Outreach Coordinator, and the Nature Center staff provided a guided tour. They shared more information with the Cadettes about the red wolves. At this visit, the girls seemed captivated by the wolves’ playfulness and interaction as they ran around the habitat. Although Candace was telling them some interesting information, the girls couldn’t seem to take their eyes off of Garnet and Karma.
The Silver Award
This all came about after troop leader Lori Nichols took these Girl Scouts to Weiler Woods for Wildlife in Tryon in the summer of 2018. The Cadettes visited Dale Weiler and Loti Woods to see his works of art and learn more about what a wildlife artist does. The Cadettes viewed Dale’s newest endeavor carved out of alabaster. The endearing sculpture, named “Just Settling In” portrays an American red wolf and her newborn pup. Their curiosity was definitely aroused. They could not believe less than 20 wild red wolves were living on Earth and that those lived in their home state of North Carolina. They would even be able to see some of these wolves at the Western North Carolina Nature Center. Inspired to learn and do more, the Cadettes decided to help the American red wolves through their annual fundraising project. They also decided to make saving the American red wolf the focus of a Silver Award project.
Troop leader of these Cadettes, Lori Nichols has been impressed with the girls’ commitment to this endeavor. She said, “Scouts are encouraged to remember the Outdoor Code, which states that we are to be conservation-minded. The Silver Award is available to middle school girls that are Girl Scout Cadettes (6th, 7th, and 8th grades) and is designed to empower them through discovery, leadership, cooperation, organization, and accountability. Even though these Cadettes are in the early stages of working toward their Silver Award, I’m convinced that they have already shifted their focus from just earning an award to sincerely helping the red wolves survive.” The Girl Scout Silver Award is considered the highest honor a Cadette can achieve.
Weiler Sculpture To Be Unveiled in 2021
To share this message with as many people as possible, more than 30 limited-edition castings of the original “Just Settling In” sculpture were made and donated by Weiler Woods for Wildlife to be put on display across the United States. These sculptures will be in accredited centers committed to red wolf conservation. Weiler Woods for Wildlife partnered with Defenders of Wildlife to provide one of the castings to be installed in 2021 at the WNC Nature Center, located in Asheville, North Carolina. The Weiler sculpture of the American red wolf will be permanently installed on a wall near the Front Entrance of the Nature Center in 2021. To receive an invitation and notice of this installation become a member of the Western North Carolina Nature Center and one will be sent to you.
Loti and Dale Weiler stated they “want to inspire more people to take action to save the red wolves. With two breeding red wolves right at the WNC Nature Center, the community can help a local effort to save this critically endangered animal that is on the brink of extinction. Now through December 31, Weiler Woods for Wildlife is matching all donations to the Friends of the WNC Nature Center of $100 or more up to $3,500. Donations can be made online at www.wildwnc.org/donate or mailed to Friends of the WNC Nature Center, PO Box 19151, Asheville, NC, 28815.”
To learn more about the plight of the American red wolf and Weiler Woods for Wildlife, visit www.weilerwoodsforwildlife.com/red-wolf-facts/. To find out more about the Western North Carolina Nature Center and their efforts to save the critically endangered American red wolf, go to: wildwnc.org.
The Western North Carolina Nature Center
The Western North Carolina Nature Center is a 42-acre wildlife park sanctuary, located at 75 Gashes Creek Road in Asheville. It is operated by the City of Asheville’s Parks and Recreation department and is home to more than 60 species of animals. Of course, it is the home of Karma and Garnet, the American red wolves. However, the Center has greatly expanded in recent years with many new exhibits, such as the arrival of the adorable new red pandas, Leafa and Phoenix. Red pandas are also endangered with only several thousand remaining in the wild. Visitors love watching two playful American River Otters, Olive and Obi-Wan, glide through their habitat known as Otter Falls. One can also discover two majestic American black bears: Uno and Ursa, and see red-tailed hawks, owls, white-tailed deer and many other seldom seen animals. It is certainly a place to learn about the many animals in our area with many programs all year long for all ages. Just go to https://wildwnc.org/ for more information.