Ark. man leaves luxuries behind to care for rescued wolves
For James Gage, every day starts, and ends, with his wolves.
"I decided it was time to move out into the middle of nowhere and get a place to give these guys somewhere to live and rescue some of the wolves in captivity," Gage explained.
With a property just north of Batesville, hours away from his family and friends, Gage is saving domestic wolves one at a time.
"They're really inquisitive," Gage said of the wolves when they were introduced to Channel 7's camera. "That's kind of their nature they stand back and check things out that's how they survive so long in the wild."
Gage, 28, explained while there are less than 10,000 wild wolves left in the United States, there are more than a quarter million in captivity.
Some of those are kept as pets.
Gage was studying environmental science in college when he first got a wolf hybrid, Bailey.
"I learned a lot about them in order to take care of her and in doing that, I learned about their strife that they face," Gage said. "I decided I wanted to do something to help."
He discovered there was a need in Arkansas for wolf rescues.
"I know first hand it's not a good idea to keep them as pets in captivity because I've done it," Gage said.
Gage now has seven wolves that come from all different situations, but all came from the pet trade.
"They put them in positions where they don't have enough space to be healthy or they don't know about their medical care, and then it compromises the health of the animal," Gage explained. "Or they don't meet the requirements of the state and then the animal gets confiscated and there's no where for it to go except to be euthanized."
Since wild animals can't be adopted back out as pets, the wolves need a special home.
After working and studying with a wolf sanctuary in Colorado, Gage is now working to set up Wolf Hollow in Arkansas, applying for non-profit status and a USDA license, which will allow him to use the organization for education.
"I hope to eventually have a non-profit organization set up that will rescue the animals and advocate for them in the wild," Gage said. "And teach science and conservation, maybe, where it can have interns and volunteers and teach to classroom groups and things like that."
Until the all of the licenses are approved, he keeps the wolves as his own.
He lives in a remote area, sacrificing cell or internet reception for room for the wolves to exercise.
Gage said he is currently working as a bartender at night to pay for his day job caring for the wolves.
"In my eyes it's worth it just to be able to fill that spot to give them what they need," Gage said. "If I'm going to do it I've got to do it right."