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Florida preserve allows close human contact with wolves; some experts say it may be too close

  • Flooded Wolf Preserve-1.jpg

    In this July 8, 2014 photo, founder Cynthia Watkins kisses a wolf inside the Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley, Fla. The 450 acre preserve is home to 30 gray, Arctic and British Columbian wolves. It is the largest wolf preserve in the Southeastern United States. The preserve was damaged during heavy rains that flooded the region in April. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson-Gabriel) (The Associated Press)

  • Flooded Wolf Preserve-2.jpg

    In this July 8, 2014 photo, Wayne Watkins kneels near a wolf inside the Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley, Fla. The 450 acre preserve is home to 30 gray, Arctic and British Columbian wolves. It is the largest wolf preserve in the Southeastern United States. The preserve was damaged during heavy rains that flooded the region in April. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson-Gabriel) (The Associated Press)

  • Flooded Wolf Preserve-3.jpg

    In this July 8, 2014 photo, a wolf rests inside the Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley, Fla. The 450 acre preserve is home to 30 gray, Arctic and British Columbian wolves. It is the largest wolf preserve in the Southeastern United States. The preserve was damaged during heavy rains that flooded the region in April. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson-Gabriel) (The Associated Press)

At Seacrest Wolf Preserve in northern Florida, billed as the largest such facility in the Southeast, owners Cynthia and Wayne Watkins say they raise their wolves to become accustomed to humans.

For a $25 fee, they even let visitors mingle with a wolf pack.

They say it lets wolves become ambassadors for their species and helps people become advocates for wolves.

The Watkinses estimate that Seacrest, near the town of Chipley, gets 10,000 visitors a year.

But some wolf experts worry that Seacrest may allow wolves and humans to get too close.

Dave Mech, a federal research assistant who has studied wolves for decades, says letting visitors enter a wolf pack enclosure isn't safe.

Seacrest says it has safety measures in place, including an educational video and trained wolf handlers.

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