- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is appealing a federal administrative law judge’s decision that allowed a southern Indiana man to keep a license that enables him to own and exhibit animals at a nonprofit refuge.

The USDA is asking Administrative Law Judge Janice Bullard to reverse a decision that allowed Tim Stark of Wildlife in Need to keep his Animal Welfare Act license, or to issue a new decision, The (Louisville, Kentucky) Courier-Journal (https://cjky.it/1UNlqPe ) reported. Stark and his attorney filed a response to the appeal in late February.

The USDA initially claimed Stark’s license should be revoked because he pleaded guilty to one violation of the Endangered Species Act in 2008. But Bullard agreed with the defense’s argument that the USDA renewed Stark’s license several times after the violation.

“In fact, (the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has renewed (Stark’s) AWA license following his conviction, most recently in November 2014,” Bullard wrote in the judgment.

In its appeal, the USDA said it was essentially forced to renew the license, because it’s an administrative procedure. As long as long as Stark signed the renewal form, paid his fee and detailed the animals owned, the license would be renewed, the appeal states.

“So long as an exhibitor meets these three criteria, even if her facility fails to comply with animal wildlife standards on the license expiration date, USDA must grant her a renewal,” the appeal states.

Bullard also argued that Stark’s one violation of the Endangered Species Act doesn’t prove that he harmed any animals. But even if that had been the case, Stark’s lawyer contends that according to administrative law, his license should’ve been revoked within one year of the decision.

More than 120 exotic, federally regulated species are housed on the Wildlife in Need property in Charlestown, according to the USDA’s last count.


Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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