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Feds cite Adirondack Wildlife Refuge for repeated bear breakouts

A refuge has been cited for two bears that escaped their enclosure. Photo from Facebook/Adirondack Wildlife Refuge.

Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, Wilmington, NY, has been cited by the Feds after two of their bears escaped and were later recaptured.

On June 24, Adirondack Wildlife Refuge posted on social media that their black bear had escaped its enclosure and was on the loose.

“Ahote, one of our two four-and-a-half-year-old black bear sows, dug out of her enclosure this morning, and is around in our Springfield Road neighborhood,” according to a Facebook post.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said both of the facility’s bears escaped their enclosure, but one bear, named Luve, was quickly recaptured. The second bear, named Ahote, remained missing.

The bears appear to live in a small, pit-style enclosure that does not allow the animals to see outside of their cage.

Photos from Facebook/Adirondack Wildlife Refuge

The bears are often photographed climbing to try to see out of their enclosure. Visitors gawk at the bears from above.

Adirondack Wildlife Refuge closed down to search for Ahote. On June 28, the facility re-captured the bear.

This is the second time the bears have escaped from the facility. In 2019, both bears broke out of their enclosure and were on the run for two weeks before they were recaptured.

Adirondack Wildlife Refuge said they installed a triple wire interior electric fence in their bear enclosure to prevent another animal escape from occurring.

Shortly after the recent bear escape, the USDA inspected Adirondack Wildlife Refuge on July 6 and cited the facility with three violations.

The USDA report said the bear enclosure is not structurally sound, which resulted in the bears escaping. The facility does not have a complete perimeter fence to act as a secondary containment for the animals, according to the report.

The USDA also cited Adirondack Wildlife Refuge for failing to employ an attending veterinarian.

“Licensees must employ an Attending Veterinarian under formal arrangements which must include a written program of veterinary care (PVC) and regularly scheduled visits to the premises,” the USDA report said.

The refuge is owned by Steve and Wendy Hall. In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied the Hall’s applications for state and federal rehabilitation permits for migratory birds and mammals. The Hall’s permits were denied for “repeated failure to comply with applicable federal and state regulations and guidelines,” according to a press release.

A spokesperson for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) told Adirondack Explorer that the circumstances of the bear’s most recent escape are under review.

“DEC identified and communicated deficiencies in the bear enclosures after the 2019 escape,” the spokesperson said. “Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”


July 2021 USDA report:

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