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Home for wolves in North County is moving

Nikki, a 4-year-old hybrid wolf, is seen at the WHAR Wolf Rescue near the Paso Robles Municipal Airport in 2010. A staff member was attacked by a wolf-dog hybrid at the facility on June 22, 2018, according to the San Luis Obispo County Health Agency.
Nikki, a 4-year-old hybrid wolf, is seen at the WHAR Wolf Rescue near the Paso Robles Municipal Airport in 2010. A staff member was attacked by a wolf-dog hybrid at the facility on June 22, 2018, according to the San Luis Obispo County Health Agency. Tribune file photo

On a recent Paso Robles morning, Kristi Krutsinger led one of her burly wolf hybrids through the land her pack will soon call home.

The animal sniffed and scouted as it made a path through the brush on a site off Airport Road run by Zoo to You, a nonprofit group that runs educational wildlife programs. The expedition was part of the animal’s adapting process to its new digs.

“This is going to be a big change for them,” Krutsinger said of the mix of full-blood wolves and wolf hybrids her group cares for and adopts out.

When The Tribune last spoke to Krutsinger in March 2009, the co-founder of Wolf Hybrid Adoption and Rescue was just settling into the idea that a major change was about to occur.

Her nonprofit organization would soon have to move from its longtime ranch in eastern Paso Robles when Caltrans acquired it through the eminent domain process for the second phase of widening Highway 46 East.

Krutsinger expects to move by June.

The center, which Krutsinger helped start in 2001, takes in wolves from various locations such as private homes and pounds in seven Western states.

There are 11 animals in her care, and Krutsinger communicates with them through hand signals because, she said, it’s all about body language in nature.

Caltrans paid about $369,000 to buy Krutsinger’s home and roughly 2-acre ranch in a deal secured in February 2009 and pledged to pay WHAR’s relocation costs.

The move and new setup will cost up to $130,000, Krutsinger said. An extra $7,000 still needs to be raised for radios, new gate locks, safety equipment, a misting system and mobile kitchen contents.

The enclosures on the new compound are still being built. Power and water still need to be diverted onto the new site, which WHAR is leasing for an undisclosed sum from Zoo to You.

Other changes include hiring one part-time employee and opening the site to the community. The group plans to have two days a week open for regular business hours for tours and adoption. “We are even toying with the idea of having campouts during the summer months,” she said.

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