Native folklore depicts the animal as a trickster. Other cultures revere the species as a symbol of military might. The explorers Lewis and Clark first noted the jackal-eared creature in 1804 in what is now Chamberlain, South Dakota and referred to it as a "prairie wolf."
Historically associated with the open plains of the American southwest, the rarely threatening animal has extended its range and is regularly spotted in the Slippery Rock University area.
"I saw one while I was running," said Jeffrey Smith, SRU assistant professor of physical and health education. "It crossed the road in front of me."
Few things capture the imagination like natural beauty and friendly encounters between people and animals - a fact not lost on Slippery Rock University.
SRU has designed a campus to build closer ties between people and animals, for education and enjoyment. Of the campus' 531 contiguous acres, 266 acres - half of campus - has been assigned Bartramian Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary status.
Beyond the benefits of seeing wildlife on campus, the healthy coexistence with wildlife provides a complement to the thinking life and an indicator of habitat health and greening. Biodiversity is a barometer for environmental conditions locally.
It's a win-win situation, as evident by those who have spotted large buck, albino deer, cottontail rabbits, great blue heron, black snakes, turtles and America's national bird on campus.
"I have come across all manner of critters in the wooded areas that are owned by the University," Smith said.
"While teaching classes, I have seen pileated woodpeckers, black snakes, deer, including a very large buck, as well as a couple of albino deer," he said. "A few summers ago, while hiking at the Wolf Creek property with my then five-year old daughter, she pointed out that a large black bird had just landed on a tree branch above us. It turned out to be a mature bald eagle."
Christine Glenn, an SRU hospitality, event management and tourism instructor who leads campus wetland remediation, recalled, "I was walking along a campus trial with a friend. Right as we approached the top of the ski hill, the air was filled with glimpses of golden light. It was a family of golden-shafted flickers that had taken off from the top of the ski hill and were gliding through their air. What a beautiful moment, I felt my mind clear of the daily weights of life. We at SRU are extremely lucky to have protected areas that are designated wildlife sanctuary."
According to SRU's Bartramian Audubon Society and Campus Sustainability Features maps, SRU owns a total of 635 acres, including the 32-acre Old Stone House and 42-acre Miller Forest tract along Wolf Creek. These parcels are not landlocked with main campus. The maps report 193 acres ¬- 36 percent of campus - is wooded/forest.
Wildlife sanctuaries include the:
- 70.8 acre Macoskey Center Sanctuary including Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary
- 30.7 acre Branchton Road Sanctuary
- 23.7 acre Storm Harbor Equestrian Center Sanctuary
- 10 acres Wally Rose Ballpark Sanctuary
- 16 acres South Main Street Sanctuary
MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | firstname.lastname@example.org