I recently had the opportunity to participate in a special “photographers-only” workshop at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) located in a mostly undeveloped northeastern part of Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a great wildlife center that has operated in the area for over 20 years. The organization rescues native Southwest mammals that have lost their homes, been injured or otherwise abandoned. Whenever possible, the animals are rehabilitated and returned to their wild habitat. Those animals that are not able to survive again in the wild are maintained at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.
If you live in, or happen to be visiting the area, be sure to schedule a tour (reservations should be made in advance as tour sizes are limited). The guides are thoroughly knowledgeable about the animals and you have the opportunity to learn about some of the animals’ individual stories…a fascinating journey well worth your time.
SWCC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and receives no federal or state funding, even with their involvement in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the Mexican gray wolf. As a holding facility for that program, they offer space at their sanctuary to care for part of the captive population of this rare wolf. Although requests for assistance with wildlife come from state and federal agencies, individuals, law enforcement, and veterinarians, SWCC is funded solely through private donations, fundraising and grants. For more information about Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, and how to donate to this worthy cause, visit their web site at: http://www.southwestwildlife.org/.
Update: Just as I was getting ready to post this article, I was informed that SWCC is being sued by a neighbor who claims SWCC is a “criminal nuisance” given the nightly howls of wolves and coyotes and the dust kicked up by visitors who must travel a mile down a county dirt road to get to the wildlife center. He purchased his property in 2012 and apparently after living there for three years, bought an adjacent parcel in 2015, but is now suing SWCC which has been there since the early 1990s. If you’d like to read more, please click on this link to the Arizona Republic online newspaper, and if you’re convinced like me, that the neighbor should cease and desist, please sign this online petition in favor of SWCC.
Below are some of the photographs I took during my visit. Click on the first image to display larger versions. Special thanks go to Kelly Marcum (SWCC Education Director) and Randy Babb of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Randy, who led the workshop, is an accomplished photographer, author and biologist, and provided photographic and biological information to the participants.