The W.O.L.F. Sanctuary is moving to 74E and many people aren’t happy


On October 18, 2017 at 6:30 P.M. the Larimer County Planning Commission held a public hearing for the W.O.L.F. Special Review. The proposal is for a wolf/dog shelter on approximately 180 acres located on the north side of county road 74E at CR 68. Up to 60 animals would be housed at the facility, which would also include an office, veterinary facility, shops, gift shop, educational/visitors center and caretaker’s residences.

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The hearing was so well attended that two additional courtrooms were employed to accommodate attendees, who included a nearly equal number of those in favor of the proposal and those opposed.

W.O.L.F. has been an active animal sanctuary for over 20 years; the current location is on Spring Valley Road off of Rist Canyon Road and has become unmanageable since the High Park Fire due to erosion and constant flooding. A series of holding ponds to catch the flow has proved inadequate.

Neighborhood opposition is understandable. The locals fear the intrusion of a “tourist attraction”, involving traffic, dust, noise and emissions but most of all, they fear the wolf/dogs themselves. These animals are clever, their ability to climb or dig their way out of enclosures is well known. But the main reason for the objection, as around thirty people stood up and individually made their cases, is the noise, mainly the howling.

Having observed the animals up close, these are the joyful sing-a-longs of a group of happy animals who have been rescued from situations of neglect, starvation, isolation, life on a chain or in a small enclosure. It is not illegal to breed wolf/dog puppies for sale as pets and there is many a romantic who would pay a substantial amount for a puppy who grows into something that is definitely NOT a dog.

These animals cannot be confined inside and will destroy furniture, walls, doors or even jump out of windows. Owners may trigger dominance behavior by playing dog games like tugging or wrestling. Also, these are pack animals and should not be alone. They will howl all night for sheer loneliness.

W.O.L.F. is a sanctuary where rescued animals go and remain for the rest of their lives. They do not get re-habbed and released or re-homed. The average age of these animals is around 10 years of age although there is currently a 6-month-old puppy at the shelter. Over 180,000 animals are killed every year in spite of the number of wolf/dog sanctuaries in the U.S. who aid each other in placing the animals. The calls come in by the hundreds.

Essentially, this project has been in process for over twenty years, beginning with the previous site, and with the assistance and attention of the Larimer County Commissioner’s office. To reach the goals of the site plan presented by W.O.L.F. would most likely take an additional twenty years, or more, with the greatest obstacle being the raising of funds.

While most of the opposition consisted of homeowners concerned about the disruption of the peace and quiet in the neighborhood, the others are ranchers whose livelihood depends on the health and well-being of their cattle. Cows disturbed by the presence of predators are likely to trample their own calves in the panic and confusion.

The final decision was voted on by the commissioners was this: four “Yes”, four “No” and one not present. The chair wasn’t sure what to do with a tie.  There is nothing in the by-laws about how to handle a tie and it appears to be a stalemate. What had seemed to be a done deal apparently was not.

Should W.O.L.F. be forced to vacate the site for whatever reasons, the most likely fate for the area would be yet another subdivision, with all the issues of water shortages, HOAs, barking dogs, more traffic, more noise and more quarreling neighbors.




  1. This reporter is extremely pro-WOLF. Mingled freely with WOLF supporters at the hearing, but never spoke with those who have opposing views. We have a recording of a message she left with a neighbor in which she tried to change their mind regarding their opposition. This does not qualify as unbiased reporting.

    • Chris, you are always welcome to your own position on the issue. North Forty News has provided a non-biased story by representing both viewpoints of this story. We have chosen not to provide statements or quotes from either side for this reason as well. The public can check the facts. They are public record. We are providing the medium get the story out, it’s that simple. North Forty News felt it was an important issue in which the community needed to be aware of. Again, both sides were represented. Furthermore, the recording you have is not indicative of a reporter trying to change anyone’s mind. I don’t appreciate you trying to position it as such. We offered interviews with opposition, in which we were denied.

      Interpret it as you may. North Forty News stands behind our Journalists, we have invested a tremendous amount of time and resources to get this story out to the public. We have no reason to be “pro” wolf or “against” wolf. Our role is to share balanced information (which we have).

      Finally, we have chosen to share your public comment on our site because we feel the community needs and might like a forum to discuss the issue. So, discuss it! Inappropriate or defamatory comments will not be published. This is a moderated discussion.

      -Blaine Howerton, Publisher

    • I didn’t try to change anyone’s mind. I did try to say that there was much misinformation flying around and no one had the real story. The woman’s response was so shrill that I had to hang up, realizing I’d made a mistake in contacting her.

    • Chris: Maybe in all of history, two people in Alaska may have been killed by wolves; however, it was without any eye-witnesses. No evidence and no proof. While guns and second-hand cigarette smoke kills many hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Where’s the fairy tales and fears about these dangers? Otherwise, no reports of wolves killing anyone, and the Native Americans lived with wolves for many thousands of years and loved and respected this keystone species. To comprehend the science for wolves, a vital keystone species, you must possess an intelligent and open mind and not reference dark age voices that crafted fairy tales. The keystone species are the most vital and necessary species on Earth. When scientists reintroduced wolves back to Yellowstone, even the scientists were stunned by all of the ecological achievements performed by wolves.

      You must realize, the appearance of trees and plants on the land’s surface was the evolutionary event that provided life as we know it. When wolves returned to Yellowstone, four trees not witnessed in seventy years re-appeared. With more trees, more birds and more of a diversity of birds returned home to Yellowstone. With more trees, more beavers returned, and with more beavers, more ducks, otters, fish and muskrats came home, more and more strands in the web of all life, scientifically, biological diversity and bio means, “life”. With more wolf left-overs, more biological diversity returned, like scavengers, badgers, and wolverines. With more trees with berries, more bears came home. With wolves, the ungulates were more on the move, not staying in one spot, devouring it unto death. And, the wolves weeded out the sick and weak ungulates, so the ungulate herds were stronger and healthier. With the presence of wolves, less erosion on the land and along streams and rivers. “Wolves restored this ecosystem from top to bottom”. American scientist.

      If wolves are the salvation of the event that provided life as we know it or trees and plants, wolves are also the salvation of oxygen releasing, the creation and renewal of a living soil, the transpiration of the vital climate cooling water cycle, vital for cooling the climate and the sequestration and storage of the greenhouse gases for Earth. Scientifically, wolves restore planet Earth from top to bottom. In wildness is the salvation of the Earth and the preservation of “all” life, long known among wolves and planet Earth but seldom perceived by man.

    • Why are the ranchers complaining about idiot cows stampeding and stepping and killing calves? Welcome to the real world …. it’s what the mustangs endure every day… GET OVER IT!!

  2. Mr. Howerton,

    In the recorded message your reporter calls describes our rebuttal information both as misinformation and rumors…. She also identified herself as in favor of WOLF at the hearing. Both are inappropriate for a reporter. She completely fails to mention that the outcome of the hearing was a denial recommendation. Her article should have been a commentary.

    Interviews with opposition were denied because of the bias shown by your reporter.

        • Yes they are under the same classification as The Humane society! Are you aware of where the Larimer County Humane society is? In a neighborhood off Trilby. Dogs are way nosier than Wolf dogs…

    • You are so right! Some people are so ill informed and don’t bother to get good information and statistics!

  3. You did identify yourself as a reporter, just not a North Forty News reporter.
    I also know you were not the one to hang up, it was the other end that hung up on you.

    Your bias is so clear and yet you try to deny it. The people you try to serve with your paper know it.

  4. Well it is a little difficult to count your run-on sentences but starting with your headline your show to be biased and pro WOLF. Let’s break down the facts.

    Paragraph 1: 3 WOLF references
    Paragraph 2: Counted all as Neutral
    Paragraph 3: 2 WOLF references
    Paragraph 4: 1 WOLF and 3 Opposition
    Paragraph 5: 2 Extremely long run-on sentences both with WOLF references
    Paragraph 6: 4 WOLF references
    Paragraph 7: 5 WOLF references
    Paragraph 8: 2 WOLF references
    Paragraph 9: 2 Opposition
    Paragraph 10: Counted as Neutral
    Paragraph 11: 1 Wolf
    Plus the headline has a pro-Wolf tone.

    By my count that is 22 plus a pro-wolf headline to a total 5 for the opposition.

    Biased much?

    • You just spent more time counting references than what it would have taken for you to actually state an argument for your position, with factual information. Do you want to make accusations or do something about it? Frankly, this has been our frustration covering this story. We chose to cover it and we provided a venue for discussion. Is that not adequate? Besides the fact that the headline is not pro wolf, it clearly states intention and opposition.

    • Russ: Did you realize, this is purely a scientific issue, and the individual must possess the IQ points to comprehend the science for wolves. Do you hate and fear mountain lions and Africa’s lions too? Do we reference them with fairy tales and the big bad lions? The wolf, like the mountain lion [mountain lions have injured and attacked more Americans than wolves,] is a vital keystone species. The keystone species are totally in charge of their ecosystems [you are only alive, have oxygen, water, life and safety because of Earth’s wild and natural ecosystems, more science.] The keystone species are the salvation of the evolutionary event that provided life as we know it. Read my earlier commentary as I provided the science for wolves.

  5. These animals deserve to have a place to call home. It’s wonderful they will have a gift shop to help with funds. Those who oppose this move are most likely to complain about everything. I would donate money every month.

  6. I have friends who live near the new WOLF property who are very much in support of the sanctuary moving there. Unfortunately, the opposition has been very vocal, has been mailing out misinformation about WOLF, and neighbors close to the property have felt they were being bullied if they did not agree and support the opposition. I hope people find out the facts versus so much false information that’s making people needlessly scared. WOLF will be a benefit to the RFL community.

  7. The “Facts” on the website are pretty thin and some speculative. the statement about the name Acronym W.O.L.F. being misleading because they only have hybrids right now…really? That’s pathetic. It’s clear that the real fact is we are dealing with fear and ignorance. Generally, People in that state of mind do not have discussions, only hear what they want to hear and are not open to enlightening information or any kind of compromise. There are LOTS of facts on the WOLF website and any scientific website, but the fear mongers don’t seem interested. With all the information out there online about wolf behavior, wolf dogs, wolf hybrid rescues…just google any of those key words….Wolf hysteria is still around – pretty unbelievable. That’s the problem – the opposition just doesn’t want to believe anything other than their own assumptions.

  8. It seems to me that the chief complaint was noise. Every time I have been up there rock hounding or hiking I have often heard gun shots and ATVs. So the noise issue seems contrived. I think would be a great addition to the area.

    • Yes! It seems many nowadays just like to complaint about anything and everything without good substantial information and facts! Take me back to the good old days!

  9. First of all, I would like to thank North Forty for doing this article. I imagine it is quite hard to be a journalist because whatever you write, someone will be upset.

    I am a volunteer at WOLF Sanctuary in the current Rist Canyon location. The staff and volunteers at WOLF do an amazing job of caring for and protecting these wonderful animals, most of whom come from incredibly horrid situations. The option is usually euthanasia for these animals. Thankfully there are a number of sanctuaries and rescue groups around the country who exist to help a small percentage of these animals. The Rist Canyon location is far from ideal especially with the persistent wildfire threat and flooding. Also the location inhibits quite a few people from volunteering due to the arduous task of getting in and out of the private road and the vehicular restrictions. The location also inhibits WOLF from adequately pursuing one of its stated missions: education of the general public on the plight of these animals and the fact that it is not a good idea to own one.

    As someone who spends the summers in Red Feather Lakes, I can say that the noise issue raised by the opponents is nothing compared to the traffic noise on 74E on a Friday night during the summer. And let’s not talk about the incessant gun fire from target shooting. I would also point out that there are quite a few ranchers in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington whose cattle do give birth and manage to not trample their calves while living in wolf country – and these wolves are running wild, not in enclosures like the animals at WOLF.

    Thank you again for reporting on this topic.

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