Columbus wildlife center may get to finish lease
The Wildlife Science Center in Columbus may have longer than its initial July 15 deadline to move its nearly 100 animals – including a number of endangered wolves – off-site to a new home in Linwood. However, Executive Director Peggy Callahan said that regardless of the move-out date, raising funds for the transition as soon as possible is paramount.
Meanwhile, the center remains open to the public, though Callahan said the negative attention surrounding the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ notice of termination of the WSC’s lease earlier this year has caused the center to lose valuable revenue, opportunities and visitors.
On Jan. 5, the WSC received a letter from the DNR explaining that the department was terminating the lease for the center, which currently sits on DNR property in the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area. Though the lease was set to expire naturally in March 2017, the letter said that unless the WSC addressed a number of department concerns – primarily related to the condition of the center’s on-site office building, which is not open to the public – the DNR would cut the lease short in July. Callahan disputes most of the issues raised in the letter and has said she believes the DNR is trying to force her off the property so it can add to the nearby department facilities; however, the DNR has said no such plans are imminent.