PETA asks Bear Path Acres license be revoked

Published 10:07 am Friday, August 5, 2016

PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — has sent a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture requesting that it terminate Bear Path Acres of its Animal Welfare Act license to exhibit animals. This letter comes after the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recently suspended the wildlife exhibitor and rehabilitator permits.

The VDGIF suspended the roadside zoo’s Virginia Wildlife Rehabilitator Permit and the Permit to Exhibit Wildlife Animals in Virginia due to numerous violations of the code of ethics — transferring the custody of a bobcat and African serval cat to owners who do not possess a valid Virginia Wildlife Rehabilitator or Exhibitor’s permit; allowing a juvenile white-tailed deer in the interior of her house and allowing the animal to interact with a pet dog that was occupying the same space; and allowing a volunteer to physically handle a raccoon at the facility who does not possess a Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Permit.

According to PETA, all of these state infractions are also violations of federal laws within the AWA, which is why the agency requesting Bear Path Acres have its licensed revoked.

“Termination is particularly appropriate here since BPA has repeatedly demonstrated that it cannot or will not comply with AWA standards,” PETA’s letter reads. “Since 2013 alone, only two of 11 inspections were found to have no noncompliant items, whereas the other nine found several violations, including some repeat and direct violations of the AWA. In just the last year, PETA has reported more than 40 apparent AWA violations at BPA to the USDA.”

The USDA has not responded to PETA’s request at this time. However, when the VDGIF suspended Bear Path Acres’ permits, the zoo was forced to shut its doors.

According to the department, the suspension will remain in effect until Jan. 31, 2021, but, they do have an opportunity to appeal the decision within 30 days of the date of the letter was sent on July 25.

As of Thursday afternoon, Debbie Jeter, the owner of Bear Path Acres, had not informed them to appeal her suspension.

“Ms. Jeter has not contacted the DGIF regarding the appeal of her permit suspension,” Lee Walker of the VDGIF said. “She must maintain the animals in place until any legal or administrative process have been properly been brought to a close. If she wishes to give up the animals in possession, both DGIF and USDA will offer assistance in place of them.”