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FWP Seeks to Revoke Animals of Montana Menagerie Permit

Enforcement - Region 3

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Citing more than two dozen violations in 2015 alone, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced Monday it has taken formal steps toward revoking the operating permit of a roadside menagerie northeast of Bozeman.  FWP delivered the notice of the revocation process to Troy Hyde, the owner and permit holder of Animals of Montana, Inc.

The notice refers to 25 violations of state statute and administrative rule occurring between Feb. 1 and Nov. 17 of this year. Those include performing exhibitions without a permit; use of a weed whacker and hedge trimmer in an attempt to move an uncontrollable tiger; inadequate, unlocked, unmarked or overcrowded den boxes or cages containing an African lion, wolves, foxes, lynx, brown bears, coyotes, and more. It also notes unsanitary cage conditions marked by animal waste, and inhumane housing of caged animals.

State and other agency officials have tracked problems at the Animals of Montana facility since 2001, when an employee bitten by a brown bear sustained a broken arm. Numerous escaped wildlife, including African lions and a black leopard, have been reported. In 2012, an employee of Animals of Montana was killed by a grizzly bear in an incident that was not immediately reported to officials and which triggered a federal investigation and fine.

Since then, FWP has been monitoring the operations at the facility closely and formally warned Animals of Montana that it needed to strictly adhere to the conditions of its permit (and related indemnity agreements) or its permit would be revoked.

Regulatory agencies have cited Hyde numerous times. In 2013, Hyde was fined $9,000 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for unsafe working conditions.  In 2009, Hyde was found guilty of violating the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act by trafficking an unlawfully sold tiger across state lines.  That resulted in the loss of his roadside menagerie license subsequent to losing his USDA Class C Exhibitor’s license, a prerequisite for the state license.  Both were reinstated in 2011.

Animals of Montana was first licensed by FWP as a roadside menagerie in 1995.*  The business's website states that its goal is to provide visitors "with the filming or photographic opportunity of a lifetime."  
Hyde can challenge the proposed permit revocation by requesting a hearing by Jan. 27, 2016. Otherwise the roadside menagerie will be closed.

*FWP permits roadside menageries as required by state law. The permitting process is not one involving subjective decision making.  Organizations are granted permits if they meet standard criteria. FWP has the authority to revoke this type of permit should terms of the permit be violated.