Green Guide

South Dakota wildlife sanctuary hopes to regain license

Posted November 29

— Officials of a western South Dakota wildlife sanctuary that lost its federal license and had most of its animals removed hopes to regain the license by spring.

Fred Erdman, president of the Spirit of the Hills board of directors, told the Black Hills Pioneer ( ) that the sanctuary is creating a new board that will see if it can get its U.S. Department of Agriculture license back.

"One of our biggest features, we tour a lot of school-aged children (through the sanctuary) every spring," he said. "It would be nice to do that again. Granted, it won't have exotic animals, but we'd like to have some sort of educational program put together."

In the meantime, Erdman would like to host the Living Nativity this December, without any animals on display.

"To me, a lot of what the nativity is about, is getting families together and coming to experience what it may have been like," he said.

But Bobbi Brink, the director of California-based animal sanctuary Lions, Tigers, and Bears, has called for the South Dakota sanctuary to dissolve. Brink has been assisting Spirit of the Hills with the removal of animals to other facilities around the country.

"I was really hoping to get them (Spirit of the Hills) 100 more animals down so that there was a sustainable number. The animal care is just not there," she said.

Brink said she wants all of the sanctuary's animals to be removed and for it to sell off its assets to pay for animal care at facilities that took in the animals.

Erdman disagreed with Brink, saying animals at the South Dakota facility are well cared for.


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