The Missoulian says director Ellie Marion told them the center isn’t meeting certain accreditation standards of a federal agency, but she wouldn’t say which one. “Basically, we are in a tough spot,” Marion told the newspaper, saying they could be fined up to $50,000. “The federal agency has the power to close us down. If we can’t meet the most basic needs, we won’t be able to keep our doors open.”
I got to visit the Sanctuary, then known as the Beartooth Nature Preserve, a few years ago after a trip to Yellowstone and it seemed totally well-meaning and clean. The animals had fun things to do and the people who worked or volunteered there knew them all individually. I didn’t hear back from the sanctuary when I called to ask what is up. On their website the only mention is a meeting that went down on Feb. 2 that promised to answer the question “What the heck is going on up there?”
I don’t really see what all the secrecy is about. Zoos and sanctuaries that exhibit animals are governed by the Animal Welfare Act. That’s enforced by APHIS–the same branch of the USDA that goes out and kills wildlife at the bidding of ranchers. So it would certainly be ironic if the agency that normally shoots and poisons wildlife gets to fine a non-profit that takes in wolves, bears, birds and all other kinds of animals that have been injured, abused or taken in as ill-advised pets.
So far the USDA shows the sanctuary as having a completely clean record with no violations, either direct or indirect, over the last four inspections. APHIS can exempt some sanctuaries from regulations–as long as they meet another set of regulations, including not using the animals in fundraising. Which would seem hard for an animal-saving charity to do.
One of Yellowstone Sanctuary’s residents has a celebrity friend. Ted Turner gave them his former pet, a magpie named Harry, when the bird turned aggressive, the book Gifts of the Crow reports. The bird now answers all queries with no, no, no. Maybe he can help them out.
If you ever visit Yellowstone National Park, it’s worth the side trip, especially since it’s in Red Lodge, MT, which has the Montana Candy Emporium, easily the best candy store I’ve ever visited.