USDA issues scathing report on Wildlife in Need and Tim Stark
Department alleges over 140 violations from 2013 to 2015. In addition, as recent as March 2017, a USDA inspection report alleged they were operating on a suspended license, denied access to inspectors and tried to intimidate inspectors with a fire arm.
Wildlife in Need, a southern Indiana roadside zoo, has been under intense scrutiny this past week after a video was released of the owner, Tim Stark, roughly handling a bear cub. This isn’t the first time the facility has been under fire for the way it treats its animals. A scathing complaint filed last year by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) documents a history of repeated, willful violations from 2013 to 2015. There are too many to list here, so we will link to the filing. Notably, Stark was also convicted in 2008 for violating the Endangered Species Act.
Forward to this March, 2017. A USDA inspection report from March 31, 2017 includes a slew of new allegations. Here is a summary of what the inspection report alleges:
- Stark’s license was suspended by the USDA on March 24, 2017.
- Stark continued to operate with a suspended license, as was documented by eye witnesses and posts shared on social media.
- On March 29, USDA inspectors were denied access to the property.
- The inspectors allege Stark tried to intimidate them by coming to the front gate with a visible fire arm.
Operating on a suspended license and denying access to inspectors are both considered critical violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Over the years, Stark has been warned repeatedly by inspectors that he cannot allow the public to have physical access to young cubs as they pose a threat to people attending, especially children and babies. Stark has ignored these and other warnings, including operating with a suspended license on multiple occasions.
I encourage you to read these reports. The information within is nothing less than shocking.
What can be done?
In 2015 and 2016, the USDA actively sought to revoke Stark’s license for exhibiting, dealing, breeding and transporting. Based on the new filing, it appears they are planning additional steps toward that end. Unfortunately, the process may be long. Far too long for the wild animals that languish in cages in Charleston, IN.
IARA is actively looking into options as well, but in the meantime please share this information with as many people as you can. Share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tell your friends and family who are considering going for a visit.
What are some legitimate sanctuaries near Indiana?
If you love animals and wish to support organizations who take great care of animals, we suggest the following:
Upland’s PEAK Sanctuary – Salem, IN http://uplandspeaksanctuary.org/
Black Pine Animal Sanctuary – Albion, IN www.bpsanctuary.org/
Wedrose Acres – Gridley, IL www.wedroseacres.org/
You can happily visit and contribute money to these organizations and feel comfortable knowing your money is supporting a place that puts the interests of the animals first.