Photography game farm Triple D Wildlife cited six times for keeping animals in squalor


A cougar is lead to a photo shoot at a photography game farm. Photo shared from Facebook/Susan Fox.

Triple D Game Farm, Kalispel, MT, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) six times for keeping animals in dirty enclosures polluted with feces and filthy water.


Triple D Game Farms also goes by the name Triple D Wildlife. The facility was started in 1972 by the late Lorney Deist and his sons, according to the Triple D website.


The facility is now owned by Lorney’s son Jay and Jay’s wife Kim. Jay formerly worked as a law enforcement officer for the U.S. Forest Service, according to court records.


Triple D was originally started as a breeding facility but quickly transitioned into a photography game farm, according to their website.


Photography game farms operate by buying, selling, breeding and collecting wild animals and profiting off of them by renting them out for wildlife photography and filming.


Examples of phony wildlife photos shared from the Triple D Wildlife Facebook page.


It is very difficult to capture images of animals like bears, cougars, lynx, wolves, foxes and snow leopards in their native environment, so some nature photographers instead rent trained animals or pay to attend workshops at game farms where they photograph the animals in remote filming locations.


Wild animals that would normally roam more than a hundred miles a day in their natural environment are relegated to small cages on wire grates or concrete floors. They’re only removed from their enclosures for training or to perform for visiting photographers.


Photographs and videos posted on the Triple D Wildlife Facebook page only show the animals while they’re being filmed at predetermined filming locations and do not show the enclosures the animals live in when they’re not being filmed.


Wolves at the photography game farm Animals of Montana. Photo shared from Facebook/Chris Boyer.

The animals at photography game farms are bred and after giving birth their babies are taken from them either to be used as photo props or they’re sold to other roadside zoos or private owners when they’re only a few days old.


Triple D confirmed this practice in a Facebook comment.


“We do not do rehab,” Triple D said. “These babies are hand raised to become future ambassadors for their species at their future homes.”



In an article for Audubon, National Geographic Photo Editor for Natural History Kathy Moran condemned the practice of breeding and keeping animals to use for phony wildlife photography.


“They claim these animals are wildlife ambassadors,” she said. “No; an injured animal used for education—that’s a wildlife ambassador. An animal kept solely for profit is an exploited animal.”


USDA records indicate Triple D Game Farm was inspected from 2014-2019 by Animal Care Inspector Brian Hood. Roadside Zoo News did not obtain USDA records prior to 2014.


The records indicate Hood would visit the facility once per year around the same time. At each visit, Hood gave the facility a clean inspection report.


Hood inspected Triple D Game Farm in:

  • April 2014

  • June 2015

  • June 2016

  • June 2017

  • July 2018

  • July 2019

In 2020, USDA inspections were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the USDA sent Veterinary Medical Officer Debbie Cunningham to complete an inspection at Triple D Game Farm and Hood came along as an additional inspector.


Cunningham documented filthy, dilapidated enclosures filled with feces that were unsafe and could injure animals or let them escape.


According to the USDA report:

  • The water receptacles for the lynx, fox, bobcat, wolf, and fisher were not clean and sanitary and they had a green coating on the interior surface in contact with the water.

  • Some of the water receptacles contained dead flies and floating debris.

  • There was excessive amounts of feces and animal food waste in the lynx, bobcat, river otter, tiger, fisher, mountain lion, pine marten and raccoon enclosures.

  • Dirt, grime, fur and urine covered the shift doors and enclosure walls in the small animal building and in the area housing the lynx and bobcats.

  • The filthy enclosures were attracting flies which can cause skin lesions, pain and tissue damage.

  • A bobcat had chewed a 5” diameter hole in the top of its den box.

  • The dirt and gravel in the bottom of the bobcat, coyote, and lynx enclosures had been dug out, exposing a metal sub-grate and the animals were sitting and walking on the metal grate. There was a gap between the metal grate and the dirt below which could cause entrapment or injure the animal.

  • The flooring in the badger’s enclosure was made of metal panels that had deteriorated and rusted, creating gaps and holes in the floor which could result in nail or limb injuries.

  • A water receptacle in the wolf enclosure was in disrepair and had an exposed piece of rebar where concrete had broken away. The condition of the water receptacle could lead to injury and may interfere with the wolves' ability and desire to drink.

  • A deteriorating rusted vertical structural support pole with many holes on the end was in the enclosure with a wolf. It was no longer structurally sound and could lead to injury of the wolf or potential escape.

Triple D representatives told the USDA inspectors that they were struggling to keep up with husbandry chores due to decreased employee numbers because of COVID-19, according to the inspection report.


However, in a public Facebook post, former Triple D employee Heather Keepers said the facility has the same number of staff members they had before the pandemic.


Keepers said employees were not given the tools or freedom to provide the animals with even minimal standards of animal care.


“The truth is, I and others sacrificed nearly everything personally, professionally, mentally and emotionally to give the best we, as individuals, could,” she said. “The truth is, this must stop. Change must start here. The animals deserve better. They have literally earned better.”

June 2021 Triple D Game Farm USDA inspection report:

PST_Inspection_Report_Triple D Game Farm Inc
.pdf
Download PDF • 256KB