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Endangered Gray Wolves to be “Hunted” in Tucson

September 2, 2011

TUCSON, Ariz. - Folks in Tucson will be "hunting" endangered Mexican gray wolves starting Saturday - but not with guns. The Defenders of Wildlife event combines street art with a scavenger hunt.

Fifty silhouettes representing the last wild lobos in Arizona and New Mexico will be displayed on buildings across Tucson. Local artist Lauren Strohacker says her "street art" is meant to bring attention to wolf-recovery efforts.

"Using something creative to wake people up. The idea that these wolves need to be reintroduced, I don't know if that's an everyday topic for people, and not that it should be. But maybe someone that is going to be very interested in it can get that spark going."

The more wolf silhouettes you spot, the better your chances to win.

Defenders of Wildlife spokeswoman Eva Sargent says the contest is meant to be fun, but the event also has a serious purpose.

"This is the only 50 wild Mexican wolves anywhere in the world. So, this exhibit is both a celebration of the fact that Mexican wolves are back from extinction but also a cautionary tale that there's only 50 of them and they still need our help."

Prizes will include gift baskets and gift certificates, Sargent says, but first prize is a week-long adventure for two which could include an actual wolf encounter.

"Through Apache Wilderness Journeys, which is really cool. It's on the Apache reservation, and you get to look for wolves, track wolves, howl for wolves and also do all kinds of Apache cultural activities."

Strohacker calls her work "activist art," using creativity to get at the spirit that underlies the issues of environmentalism, sustainability and wildlife protection.

"I think that art has such a strong voice to get people to just see something differently, and I think that's the biggest reason that I do this kind of work."

The hunt for the wolf silhouettes runs through Sept. 17. More information is online at whereslobo.org.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ