I just had an incredible experience at the Lakota wolf preserve, owned by Jim and his partners Dan & Pam Bacon. Saving the wolves has been their passion for over 18 years now.
I could not imagine what made them take up a wolf’s cause. So, I look up Jim’s contact details and call him.
“What was the inspiration?” I ask.
“Dan is a photographer by profession,” he tells me,” and he came across some wolves that had been born in captivity and were kept in very bad conditions. Wanting to provide a natural and safe home for these wolves he started a facility in Colorado.” Ever since, they have taken in several other wolves and now are running at full capacity with 4 packs in their care.
For Jim it started with volunteer work. Soon he fell so much in love with the animals that he joined full-time. Looking for better revenue, they moved to New Jersey fourteen years ago. His first task here was erecting that double fence.
“What is your biggest challenge running the preserve?”
“Finding enough food for these 21 animals,” Jim replies. After all they do consume a lot. Funds, he explains, are insufficient to regularly buy food. Their chief source is road kill, which the owners themselves drive around collecting. Occasionally nearby farmers donate a killed deer or two.
Due to financial constraint, they have shortage of man power, with just one other employee. They encourage volunteer work but do plan to expand their work force.
What about the future plans? Does he foresee opening another facility? I imagine a glint in his eye at the question, reflecting his passion.
“Absolutely, I would definitely want to do something like that,” Jim says without hesitation. “The New Jersey division of tourism did a program on us and asked us the same thing. And I said, just find me the funding!”
Currently the facility is on rented property. Jim prefers to own it for better control. Everything, however, boils down to funds. Jim believes he just needs more time to focus on this aspect. Right now with his 24×7 schedule caring for the wolves, he finds it difficult.
“It’s an awesome job you’re doing,” I honestly tell him, wrapping up, “I would love to visit again.”
Memories of the wolves stay with me. I can hear a pack howling at a distance. Did the howls scare me? Not anymore. I just smile knowing the wolves are happy in their home at last.