I am a concerned past-donor of WOLF Sanctuary in Larimer County. I believe that donors are being duped as to where their donation dollars are really going. I became suspicious several years ago when the organization filed bankruptcy and ignored multiple requests for financial information. I stopped donating and chalked it up to poor management practices. However, my curiosity was peaked recently when the sanctuary applied for permission to relocate to a new location and, based on their plans, turn the sanctuary into a roadside zoo. I began investigating and now have serious questions with their lack of transparency.
I had donated to the wolves for well over a decade and have a high level of respect for the philosophy and operating principles of the founders of the sanctuary. Their concern for what was in the best interest of the animals was very clear and all requests, that I made, for financial information were promptly accommodated. Also, having visited the facility and their home, it was obvious that they were living a spartan lifestyle in order to save these magnificent creatures.
In 2012 the founders retired, and a new management team took over. It has become apparent to me, after talking with several past Directors from the WOLF board, that there was an immediate change in philosophy. Indeed, even Board Members who had been with the organization since its inception, in 1994, were forced out. The founder who still lives on the property, Mr. Wendland, was apparently being legally bullied into giving up his interest in the property, on which the sanctuary was located.
In fact, public documents filed by WOLF Sanctuary during their bankruptcy case, initiated in 2014, shows that there were only two creditors that the sanctuary was trying to dismiss. Those were the founders. It appears from court documents that one of the founders, Ms. Lanteri, actually succumbed to the legal bullying and sold her interest in the property to the sanctuary for less than ten cents on the dollar.
Financial reports that were required to be filed by the sanctuary, during the bankruptcy, showed that the WOLF Sanctuary had:
Spent over $170,000 on attorneys’ fees, through 2015, to legally bully Mr. Wendland. WOLF Sanctuary has never informed donors about this.
Taken $260,000 from insurance claims, due to the High Park Fire, and never accounted for where that money went. WOLF Sanctuary has never informed donors about this.
My understanding is that the bankruptcy court ruled that WOLF Sanctuary could not take Mr. Wendland’s rights to the property. It also appears that they are now trying to prevent Mr. Wendland from selling his interest in the property. Evidently, he must sell it to pay his attorneys.
Further investigations show that the IRS 990’s that nonprofits are required to file, show no listing of the new executive director of WOLF Sanctuary for 2013 through 2016. The IRS requirement is that the nonprofit show the directors and any income they took from the organization. Copies of the IRS 990’s, which are available online would seem to dispute what WOLF sanctuary lists on their web site. The only reason I can surmise, for this lack of information, is that they are trying to hide something.
I would think that the public has a right to know what is going on with their donations and it should be the responsibility of the media to ask the hard questions. I must remain anonymous as I believe they would use the same legal bullying on my efforts as they have used on Mr. Wendland. However, I would be happy to try to supply you with some of the documents I have uncovered, if you have an interest.
Thank you for your careful consideration of this issue.