Columbus: Wolvesby Marc Sanchez, Minnesota Public Radio
Columbus, Minn. — The Wildlife Science Center plays host to a variety of animals: skunks, raccoons, birds of prey, cougars, lynx, bobcats, coyotes, and even a porcupine. But the stars of the show are the wolves.
Peggy Callahan is the center's executive director. She has worked there 25 years, and lived on premises for most of the first decade. For most people, a howling pack of wolves might be the soundtrack to a nightmare, but for Callahan, the sounds are like a lullaby.
She can pick out the nuances in different howls: territory defense, stranger danger, or the single solitary moan when a wolf loses a mate or pups. Callahan can also sense when there's something wrong with the pack. She's not afraid to break up a wolf fight (paint guns are deployed, in case you're wondering).
Part of the research carried out at the Wildlife Science Center is on conflict resolution. It's not so much wolf vs. wolf as much as human vs. wolf. They try to figure out how we can live in harmony.
One of Callahan's biggest joys is when kids visit the center. She says she tries to show them how much fun the animals are, all the while sneaking in science lessons.
The center began as a federally funded project in 1976. Funding ceased in 1991, but Callahan helped to keep it up and running as a privately funded non-profit.
- Morning Edition, 04/19/2011, 7:45 a.m.