We need your letters to stop another breeding facility

Avatar BCR | December 22, 2009 132 Views 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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I know we’re all swamped with things to do, but I couldn’t say no to passing along this urgent appeal for help.  I’ve listed, at the bottom of this email, a lot of information about the background of Bear Country USA.  Though the name implies bears, they also feature mountain lions, Canadian Lynx, and bobcats.  Williams, AZ has fast tracked approval of a new facility called Bearizona, owned by members of the same family, in hopes that it will be the answer to the city’s financial problems.
Please take a moment to write letters objecting to this facility and the breeding of surplus animals. Letters explaining how difficult it is to find sanctuaries to take these animals because of over breeding would be a huge help. Also, information regarding what happens to surplus animals that cannot be placed would be informative to those making the decision.  Even if we just accomplish having restrictions placed so they will not breed, that would be a big step for the animals – a holiday gift to prevent further suffering.
Thank you for your help,

Please send the letters to:

Ron Sieg, Flagstaff Regional Supervisor

Arizona Game and Fish Department

3500 Lake Mary Rd.

Flagstaff, Arizona 86001


Please copy the letter to Ron Sieg also to:

Steve Andrews

Arizona Game and Fish Department

3500 Lake Mary Rd.

Flagstaff, Arizona 86001

City of Williams

113 S. 1st Street

Williams, Arizona 86046


Warren Striplin, Animal Care Inspector

United States Department of Agriculture

Western Regional Office

2150 Centre Ave Bldg R Mail Stop 3W11

Fort Collins, Colorado 80526-8117



Ttwo of the Casey brothers have split from Bear Country USA (www.bearcountryusa.com) and are building a new facility in Arizona called Bearizona (www.bearizona.com). This facility will be a mirror image of Bear Country USA. They breed their bears and take the cubs away from their mothers at 8 weeks of age, so they can hand raise them in a nursery, where they are available for public viewing. The bottom line: they breed their animals so they will have baby animals to attract the general public to their facility. 

They claim there is a need for hand-raised bears and other wildlife for zoos, wildlife parks, and even movie studios.  As we are all painfully aware, this is not true; facilities like this have created a huge problem of surplus animals.

Example from their past: 

Grizzly bear parts for sale?

Bear Country USA accused of illegal trade at tourist park

By CARSON WALKER The Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Bear Country USA near Rapid City and its owners have been accused of illegally buying two grizzly bears and selling various bear parts, with an Alaskan man among the clients, according to court documents.

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A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Rapid City.

According to a plea agreement, Bear Country is expected to plead guilty to one count of violating the Lacey Act, a federal law that governs the preservation of scarce or extinct species.

The charge stems from a March 23, 2003, purchase of two grizzly bears for $4,000 from Minnesota, according to the statement of factual basis signed by one of the defendants.

The seller is not listed in the document.

Such a sale would be illegal because the bears are endangered and the law does not allow their purchase by for-profit operations such as Bear Country, the document states.

Bear Country is just south of Rapid City and lies on 250 acres. It has a 3-mile route so tourists can stay in their vehicles and see black bears, grizzly bears, deer, elk, reindeer, cougars, bobcats and other animals up close.

In exchange for the plea, charges of illegally selling bear parts would be dropped against the attraction’s owners, Kevin Casey and Brendan Casey, according to the plea agreement.

From Sept. 1999 to Oct. 2001, the Caseys sold 44 bear paws, 12 pounds of bear meat and seven bear gall bladders weighing a total of nearly 16 pounds to an Alaska man in violation of federal and state laws, according to the statement of factual basis. The sales were worth $26,699.

During that time, the Caseys had a working relationship with Steve Hauff, a meat business owner in Spearfish, and Tommy Cha of Alaska, according to the document. Cha’s address is not listed.

As part of the arrangement, the Caseys sold bear gall bladders to Hauff for $85 an ounce, which were resold and shipped to Cha. The Caseys also occasionally sold directly to Cha, according to court documents.

Bear paws and gall bladders are used primarily in Asian markets as medicine, according to TRAFFIC, a joint wildlife trade monitoring program of the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Cream made from bear bile is especially helpful in curing hemorrhoids.

Federal court records indicate Hauff pleaded guilty in 2004 to violating the Lacey Act and was sentenced to $8,320 in restitution, a $3,000 fine and one year probation. He did not return a call seeking comment.

For Bear Country, the charge of illegally buying the two grizzly bears has a maximum punishment of a $500,000 fine.

However, the prosecution has recommended that Bear Country be allowed to keep the male and female bears. But all of their offspring for five generations would have to be donated to zoos or nonprofit wildlife organizations – without Bear Country receiving anything in return.

Prosecutors also recommended Bear Country pay $4,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lacey Act Reward Account. The lawyer for Bear Country and the Caseys did not return a telephone call, and federal prosecutors can’t comment on pending cases.

Though Kevin Casey signed the plea agreement, Bear Country does not have to plead guilty to the charge on Tuesday. If it does, a judge must still approve the terms of the deal.

On the Net:

Bear Country USA: http://www.bearcountryusa.com/

TRAFFIC: http://www.traffic.org/



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