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Animals at refuge get new digs

CAMP NELSON — Friday was moving day at the Wolf Run Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge itself didn't go anywhere. But this week's completion of a large new enclosure set off a chain reaction of animals moving to bigger, better accommodations in the new year.

The animals that got the best deal were Nahaya, whom refuge volunteer Lynn Fish Blacketer described as a nearly purebred white wolf; and Ocean, a large, three-legged dog who was once thought to be a wolf-hybrid.

Moving them from one enclosure to another was tricky, said John Owen, another volunteer at the center. And it required the skills of Mary Kindred, the center's founder.

"Nahaya won't come near any of us; Mary is the only one she will come near," Owen said. "Mary can leash her up and bring her up here, and Ocean will follow. All of us will have to stay way back."

(Refuge workers had planned to move the animals Saturday, but decided to do it after a reporter and photographer left Friday).

Nahaya and Ocean lived in a 10-by-20-foot fenced area. Their new home is 92-by-44.

At least 15 people worked on early stages of the new enclosure, Owen said. It was finished up this week by Owen; his wife, Cheryl; and their daughter, Ashley, 14.

John is a mechanic at the Osram Sylvania plant in Winchester. Cheryl is a machine operator at Freeman Corp., which turns logs into veneer.

"We got lucky; we both had vacation this week, so we decided to come over and spend a couple of days finishing this up," John said.

The 10-foot high fence around the enclosure was recycled from old tennis courts in Lexington, he said. There also is fencing along the ground on the edges of the enclosure to prevent Nahaya from digging her way out, and an electric fence along a side of the enclosure abuts a shorter fence.

"Nahaya is quite an escape artist," Owen said.

Two other wolf-dog hybrids named Razz and Jade who lived in a smaller enclosure, moved into the one Nahaya and Ocean left. Two dogs that were dropped off at the center got an area around that enclosure.

Blacketer, who is in charge of the center's fund-raising, said the goal is to build a larger enclosure for Razz and Jake, and to find someone to adopt the dogs.

To build the second enclosure and to buy gravel and railroad ties for other projects, the refuge needs money.

"We have a lot of volunteers, but you can only do so much with elbow grease. We need money," Kindred said.

The non-profit shelter is on 15 rocky acres at 7376 Old Danville Road near the Kentucky River in Jessamine County. It opened to the public in the 1990s, but Kindred and her volunteers have cared for injured, abandoned and abused creatures for more than 20 years.

Wolf Run's animal population is near 60 and includes bobcats, a cougar, a lion, deer, sheep and four roosters.

The story behind the roosters, Blacketer said, was that someone called and offered "chickens to feed your big cats." The people at the center expected to get dead chickens, but live roosters arrived.

"We don't kill animals," she said.

Nahaya was brought to the center after she was hit by a vehicle on Man o' War Boulevard in Lexington. She recovered after expensive veterinary care, Blacketer said. Ocean lost his leg when he was shot.

The two are now "soul mates," Blacketer said.