- Associated Press - Friday, July 15, 2016

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed a formal complaint against a wildlife sanctuary in Clark County that has been under investigation for animal welfare violations.

The complaint filed last week by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service administrator Kevin Shea lists more than 20 allegations in which Wildlife in Need owner Tim Stark violated the Animal Welfare Act, the News and Tribune (https://bit.ly/2a3syai ) reported.

The allegations include repeated failures to provide adequate veterinary care to animals and to handle animals carefully, as well as physical abuse.

It also alleges that Stark beat a juvenile female leopard to death with a baseball bat in 2013.

Inspectors said the sanctuary has continued to fail to comply with the Animal Welfare Act’s minimum requirements, including holding a fundraiser after inspectors suspended its license in September 2015.

The complaint also says investigators were repeatedly interfered with and verbally abused.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals condemned the sanctuary in a news release.

“PETA is urging everyone to stay away from this scofflaw animal abuser,” said Brittany Peet, foundation director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement for PETA. “This operation needs to be shut down and the animals retired to reputable sanctuaries, where they won’t be beaten, denied veterinary care, and passed around as selfie props.”

According to the complaint, Wildlife in Need most recently housed 124 animals, including 25 primates and 97 wild or exotic mammals.

Stark was convicted of violating the Endangered Species Act in 2008 and is the respondent in a pending license termination proceeding, according to the complaint. He has denied any wrongdoing in the past.

The newspaper couldn’t reach Stark for comment Thursday.


Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com

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