COLUMBIA — Distraught members of a wolf preserve in Warren County are dealing with the shock and heartbreak of losing one of their beloved wolves.

On July 15, all the animals at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia were doing well at feeding time, but the next morning, Cyrus did not come on the guided educational wolf tours that the preserve offers.

According to the preserve’s Facebook page, members searched the enclosure and found Cyrus had died. They were in total shock since the wolf is 5 years old.

Cyrus was taken to a vet for a necropsy which revealed a rattlesnake bite on his muzzle.

They said other wolves have been bitten by snakes in the past, but within a few days of medication, they recover.

The necropsy found that the rattlesnake bite was right at a major artery and nerve bundle so the venom acted fast.

“He was such a presence at the preserve, always greeting the people, getting the zoomies, and racing around the enclosure entertaining the visitors, and yet, was a very strong alpha male,” according to the Facebook post.

It goes on to say that the preserve will continue to question Cyrus’ death, to see if anything could have been done to prevent this unforeseen, and shocking tragedy.
However, in providing the wolves with a natural, acres large, wooded, natural enclosure, they said it’s almost impossible to prevent a snake from entering.

The post concluded with a very emotional, heartbreaking sentiment for Cyrus.

“It won’t stop me from feeling horrible this happened on my watch. I’m sorry my friend. Thank you for the honor of being part of your life. We will miss you terribly!!! This is the hardest part of my job!!”

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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