When businessman Roger Palmer visited Alaska in the 1970s and encountered wolves for the first time, he could never have imagined the extent of the benefits that would be achieved by the organisation that he eventually founded in 1995 the UK Wolf Conservation Trust.
The UKWCT has since not only housed and socialised wolves but staff and volunteers have enabled countless people to experience them at first hand, as well as making significant contributions towards research and conservation of wolves worldwide. Through their weekly open days, howl nights, wolf experience days and walks with wolves and other educational events as well as their regular newsletters, outreach events and sponsorship opportunities, they have helped to dispel some of the myths and prejudices surrounding canis lupus and brought wolves back to the English countryside after their extinction in the eighteenth century.
It is with a heavy heart then that I discover that, from August 2018, they will not be renewing their Zoo Licence but will revert to holding a Dangerous Wild Animals Licence, meaning that they will no longer be open to the public. They have not disclosed a detailed reason for this decision, but I am sure that it was not arrived at lightly. The wolves will of course continue to live out their days in the best of circumstances available to captive wild animals.
We must be content in the knowledge that the privilege of walking with wolves was available thanks to their efforts.