Larimer County Wolf Sanctuary raises funds to move to larger habitat


LARIMER COUNTY, Colorado – Hidden between the rocky hills and lush trees of Larimer County, down a private dirt road, is a special kind of office called WOLF Sanctuary.

“I come to work with 30 of my best friends every day,” smiles Olivia Van Vleet, WOLF’s volunteer coordinator. “Most people have never been to a place like this. I feel honored to be able to drive through the mountains like this to work every day.

The nonprofit sanctuary has called land near Bellvue home since the late 1990s. It’s where they care for 30 wolves or wolfdogs rescued from dire circumstances.

“They are abandoned, they are neglected. People would have them like puppies, thinking they would be like dogs because they were raised like dogs. When they become adults after 1 ½ to 2 years, they realize that they cannot care for them properly,” says Shelley Coldiron, Executive Director of WOLF Sanctuary.

Larimer County Wolf Sanctuary raises funds to move to larger habitat

WOLF, which stands for Wolves Offer Life and Friendship, educates the community on the importance of wolves to the ecosystem, in addition to providing a safe home for wolves that cannot live in the wild.

“When I tell people about WOLF, I tell them you can’t describe it in words. You have to experience it because it’s magic to be around these guys,” says Coldiron.

Now it is the sanctuary that must be saved.

To donate, click here and find “Help WOLF Sanctuary with a new location”

“Where we are now, we are off the grid. We run generators all day so we can have electricity. We are on a private road and we are limited to five vehicles per day for staff, volunteers, services. We are not allowed to be open to the public. It’s very difficult operationally to be able to work on some of the things that we would like to do for the animals,” says Coldiron.

The five-vehicle-a-day rule allows no tours or open houses, which the sanctuary considers a missed educational opportunity.

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“We get calls all the time from people wanting to visit us and I hate having to turn people away,” Van Vleet said. “(We want) to be able to give everyone the opportunity to see these animals in their natural habitats and learn more about them.”

So WOLF looks west for a new home.

“You are in the Wolf Sanctuary’s new Red Feather Lakes facility,” said Laura Davis, WOLF’s Senior Director of Operations. “I think they’ll like it here.”

The new habitat being built, with stunning views of the Mummy Range, has double the space on 180 acres, but comes with double the challenges.

“Covid, like everything else, has really had an impact on costs and on the supply chain,” says Davis.

“With Covid as well, prices have tripled from our original target,” says Coldiron.

The project started during the pandemic with a good mood about the move. These turned sour when steel prices soared, causing a huge budget deficit. Donors and volunteers have stepped up to fill some of the void.

Denver7 | Given

Gallery: Meet wolves and wolfdogs at WOLF Sanctuary

13:43, 05 August 2022

“That’s where the public comes in, just to help us cross the finish line,” Davis said.

WOLF would like to start moving wolves this fall, but there’s one last piece of the puzzle before we can pull out the welcome mat. The sanctuary must purchase deck enclosures – a secure cage inside each enclosure with the wolves fed, watered and sheltered from storms.

“That’s our last big hurdle, is buying them and installing them. Then we’ll be pretty much ready to move, even if we haven’t finished some of the infrastructure,” Davis said.

Once the enclosures are installed, WOLF can begin to open its doors and paws to the public.

“That’s one thing I can always guarantee…you’re going to get kissed and perfumed by one of our wolves,” Coldiron said.

You can click here to donate to WOLF Sanctuary efforts and choose “Help WOLF Sanctuary with New Location” from the drop-down menu.

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