Wolves and Bear Find Shelter with Chicagoland Biology Teacher

Big Run Wolf Ranch, Lockport, IL

Three species of wolves (British Columbian, Arctic and Grey Timber) interact intermingled in three different pens. Biology teacher Julie Basile and her husband John (who founded the ranch 18 years ago) track their interactions and move them to different groups when they see there’s trouble coming, either in the form of too rough dominance fights or mating season.
Once secluded, the ranch is now crowded by houses and planned businesses. But the ranch is still growing. They visit schools or have nearby scouts and school groups come visit and learn about wolves. The wolves jump up and lick their caretakers.

In addition to the wolves, the Basiles have taken in other animals that need help and a place to live. Wildlife officials came to John in 2000 with a 20 pound black bear cub that someone had bought at a flea market for $200 and tried to raise in an apartment until neighbors thought better of the idea. They would have euthanized the bear, now known as Kuma, that day, but the ranch took the bear in and built a proper enclosure, pool, shower and hibernation hut. Kuma likes to show off to crowds and wrestles with John.

The ranch also has several shy coyotes, wild cats, horses, dogs, peacocks and a rescued descented skunk. Kirby looks different than a wild skunk because he’s a domesticated variety and he smells different because he’s been descented. He’s friendly, cuddly and instintively holds a person’s fingers with his claws like a baby does.

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