Wisconsin big cat facility looks to move
TOWN OF EXCELSIOR — If big cat rescuer Jeff Kozlowski has his way, his lions, tigers and leopards could have a new home only a short distance away from their present one, on land newly annexed to the village of Rock Springs.
Kozlowski is scheduled to appear before the Rock Springs Village Board at 7:15 p.m. Monday to request a piece of property across Highway 136 and a short distance west of his current refuge be annexed into the village, said Clerk Shea Howard. His idea is to have the refuge operate under village zoning, rather under the regulation of Sauk County as it is now.
Kozlowski’s big cat rescue efforts have generated concern from neighbors since last year when his collection of animals grew from a half-dozen to 23 in the span of a few months. In July the Sauk County Public Health Board gave Kozlowski 60 days to find a new home for his animals.
Kozlowski said he wants to do things right this time, including getting zoning approval from the village and building a high-quality system of cages to hold his felines. He said it would cost more than $140,000 to use fencing specifically designed to contain big cats and 2-inch steel pipe to house his animals.
“It’s going to be done right the first time,” he said. “And it’s also going to be done right in terms of zoning and everything like that goes.”
Village President Charles Kissack said he will wait until he hears Kozlowski’s presentation at the meeting before commenting on the proposed annexation. Kozlowski is passing a petition trying to gain public support of the proposal.
“Everything I’ve heard from the public has been negative,” Kissack said.
Sauk County legal advisor Todd Liebman would not comment Wednesday on the proposal or speculate on what the county might do if the refuge were moved into the village.
Neighboring resident Rose Valek said she does not think moving the refuge the short distance under village zoning would matter. She is not confident the big cat refuge can be operated safely.
“My concerns has always been health and safety,” she said.
Kozlowski claimed his petition for the annexation is getting strong support from village residents. He hopes the deal will be an acceptable plan for his animals when he appears before the Sauk County Public Health Board next month.
“You can’t get much more concrete than an annexation,” he said.
• What: Rock Springs Village Board
• When: Monday, 7:15 p.m.
• Where: Rock Springs Village Hall
The village trustees will hear a proposal to annex land along Highway 136 into the community so the Big Dad’s Big Cats Rescue and Education Center can be moved there.