It all started when Darlene Kobobel rescued a wolf-dog in 1993 in Lake George, Colorado. When she learned that the animal, named Chinook, faced euthanization at the local animal shelter because of her “wolf-hybrid” label, Darlene took her home. She began to research the issue and after discovering the controversies and misunderstandings surrounding the wolf-dogs, she was determined to provide a safe haven for unwanted animals.
What started out as purely a rescue operation eventually evolved into the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Centerafter ten years. Kobobel realized that it was time to spearhead more widespread education about wolves so that even more animals’ lives could be saved in the end.
Today, the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center educates the public through tours and programs about the importance of wolves, coyotes and foxes to our ecosystem. The center also promotes forest, land and water conservation and provides natural habitats and quality living for animals entrusted to its care that cannot survive in the wild.
I talked with Darlene about the challenges she faced founding and running a wolf sanctuary and the future of wolves:
Q: How did the Sanctuary come to be?
A: I was financially challenged so I worked three jobs to support the animals and myself. The poles for the wolf enclosures were t-posts and I had concrete wire as fencing. My gift shop was a 10 x 10 area in the living room of my little house, where I made gifts to sell to help support the Center. Today, CWWC is 70 acres with 16 wolf, coyote and fox enclosures, 5 employees, several volunteers and interns, and a worldwide reputation.
Q: What is the biggest challenge of running the sanctuary? And biggest reward?
A: The biggest challenge is always money to sufficiently run the sanctuary and to provide the animals with the best care in every way. The biggest reward is twofold for me. One, I can give these animals a forever home with space, good food, enrichment and lots of love. The second biggest reward is watching the reaction of our guests when the wolves howl at the end of our tour.
Q: What are some of the things that it will take to secure the future of wolves?
A: The wolves are up against bad politics and special interests. I believe that if every person who says that they love wolves and want to help them would actually call or write to USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) and let them know that wolves are essential to a balanced ecosystem and that they are against the delisting of the them in the lower 48 states like what is being proposed right now, that it could possibly help. There is a comment line at 1-800-344-9453 Ext. 0.
Having accurate information and putting pressure on elected officials is another way of being a voice, but we need greater numbers of people to work together. If we do not become a strong voice now, we will lose our wolves in the next 10 years. Money is the true evil, as the biggest threats are selling hunting permits and the greed of some ranchers. Our precious wildlife is diminishing and they are losing protection from our government. Please be a voice. We can help point you in the right direction.
Q: What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or the sanctuary?
A: When I was a young girl, my biggest fear was wolves.