Team of artists to paint wildlife mural at Red Wolf Center in Columbia

Published 12:50 pm Thursday, April 6, 2023

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World-renowned muralist Matt Willey will lead a team of artists in April to paint a wildlife mural at the Red Wolf Center on Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Columbia.

The center, located one mile south of Highway 64, is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program to save the only remaining wild red wolf population in existence, which is found in the wild only in eastern North Carolina. It is operated as a collaborative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Wildlife Federation and National Wildlife Refuge Association.

The public education section of the center features red wolf displays, educational materials and an outside viewing enclosure housing two red wolves. The mural project will be created the first two weeks in April and showcase critically endangered red wolves, native pollinators and other wildlife living on the refuge.

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Prior to the painting of the mural several refuge volunteers, including folks from the First Flight Rotary Club, spent several days preparing the exterior of the building for the mural.

Over the last several months, organizers Loti Woods and Dale Weiler of Weiler Woods for Wildlife have been working with the Red Wolf Recovery Program Team, wildlife refuge managers and Willey to finalize plans for the public art project. Woods and Weiler first connected with Willey last year through his work with The Good of the Hive, a 21-year mural project to paint 50,000 individual honeybees worldwide.

“I’m excited to help bring some art and conservation energy to red wolves and their story,” Willey said. “With this mural, I can expand the story of The Good of the Hive beyond the bees to the red wolves and offer a clearer picture of the whole ecosystem.”

The mural is part of Weiler Woods for Wildlife’s larger mission to inspire the next generation of wildlife champions through art and education. The couple will be teaching classes on wildlife in local schools and hope to engage the whole community in the public art project. “Not only will the mural be aesthetically beautiful, but it will also educate and raise awareness about the importance of conserving our wildlife and their habitats, especially America’s red wolf,” said Woods, executive director.

“Matt is one of the best muralists in the world whose large-scale installations have reached hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe,” said Weiler, a wildlife sculptor. “We’re honored to partner with him and help share his talents with Eastern North Carolina communities and Red Wolf Center visitors.”

Other mural project partners include Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Red Wolf Recovery Program and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, National Wildlife Refuge Association and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. In addition, Jessica Suarez, a National Geographic explorer, will install a temporary photo exhibit at the center chronicling the story of red wolf recovery.

To learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program, go to