Bozeman News

Feb 7, 2013 8:55 PM by Judy Slate - MTN News

Facility where man was killed by grizzly keeps license, for now

BOZEMAN - An investigation alleges serious incidents went unreported at an exotic animal facility where a man was killed by a grizzly last fall.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has been investigating Animals of Montana since Nov. 4, 2012, when Benjamin Cloutier, 24, was killed by a captive grizzly bear. Animals of Montana provides captive animals for wildlife photography and filming purposes.

FWP officials say they uncovered other incidents that either went unreported or were underreported. FWP says on one occasion, animals including an African lion and wolf pups escaped from the facility. They also say a staff member was serious injured by a mountain lion, but Animals of Montana reported it as a "scratch."

Regarding the death of the employee, FWP says they will no longer provide indemnity permits for Yosemite, the brother of the bear blamed for the death, Yosemite was present at the time the man was killed. The bear will also not be allowed around members of the public, which puts Yosemite out of work. Animals of Montana has another bear that will allowed to work.

In addition, FWP told Animals of Montana in a letter that if they fail to report any other incidents they will lose their license to operate.

Demetri Price, head trainer at Animals of Montana, says they believe FWP is trying to shut them down and says they are dissappointed by the decision on Yosemite. He also said Animals of Montana has invited FWP officials to visit the facility, but they have not. Right now Animals of Montana is trying to decide what steps to take next.

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