PETA urges action against Indiana man after animal deaths

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (AP) -- An animal rights group is pressing federal regulators to take action against a southern Indiana man following the deaths of several of the wild animals he keeps on his property.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a letter sent Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that Tim Stark may have violated the Animal Welfare Act by acknowledging in a recent application for a captive-bred wildlife permit that several animals died at his wildlife facility in the Ohio River community of Charlestown between 2010 and 2014.

Those animals included a black bear killed by another bear, a Syrian bear euthanized for not being compatible with other bears and two ruffed lemurs that died due to a malfunctioning heater.

PETA maintains the Animal Welfare Act requires that animals be housed safely and handled in a manner that doesn't cause them physical harm or discomfort.

"Please examine Stark's veterinary and disposition records and hold him fully accountable for any and all violations," PETA attorney Delcianna Winders urged the USDA in her letter.

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Stark has run the nonprofit organization Wildlife in Need on his property since 1999, and has been licensed to keep wild animals for two decades. He said he feels PETA should be ignored because they file similar complaints regarding many applicants seeking a captive-bred wildlife permit.

"They're trying to stop me" from getting the permit, Stark told The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky.

Stark said the new license he's seeking would allow him to breed endangered species and sell them across state lines. He maintains that while inspectors have cited him for various violations over the years, he has tried to comply with regulation changes and there have been no reports of emaciated animals or other accusations of animal abuse or neglect at his property.

"I've dealt with hundreds and hundreds (of animals) and I guess PETA believes they're supposed to live forever?" he said.

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Stark estimates the nonprofit group he and his wife run has made about $10,000 from selling animals since it began, but has donated more than $250,000 to other organizations.

His group has also made money the past couple years from fundraisers allowing people to interact with the animals.

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