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Bear breeder receives 37 USDA animal welfare violations in past year

Wapakoneta, OH - Robert Sawmiller - From Feb. 2020 thru Feb. 2021, notorious bear breeder Robert Sawmiller was cited 22 times by the USDA for non critical animal welfare violations and he received 15 citations for direct (repeat) violations. The bears were being housed on the Indiana property of a man named David Eicher.

In the past year, Sawmiller’s violations included:

  • The death of two bears who passed away after transportation from Cricket Hollow Zoo in Iowa. Although Sawmiller told inspectors the animals died due to stress, in Jan. 2021 Sawmiller testified in federal court that he fed the bears while they were in hibernation, causing their death

  • Failing to obtain veterinary care for a brown bear with an untreated bloody cut lip

  • Failing to obtain veterinary care for a cougar that had two open, reddened and raw patches on its face

  • Keeping bears and their cubs outdoors locked inside small metal barrels, putting them at risk of hypothermia

  • Failing to maintain adequate bedding and insulation of shelters; bears were wet and covered with snow

  • Failing to provide food and water to bears that had awoke from hibernation. The bears were observed pushing one another to gain access to a small, frozen puddle of ice, and were observed chewing and licking the ice.

  • Co-housing numerous bears in outdoor enclosures with only one small metal barrel measuring 6’x4’ for shelter

  • Feeding the bears donated grocery store meat which, when fed to bears that just woke from hibernation, can cause illness and death

  • A juvenile brown bear was observed with poor body condition and a poor coat, leading inspectors to believe it has been in poor nutritional health for some time

  • Bear enclosures had holes and areas of fencing that were exposed where bear cubs were attempting to dig out

Sawmiller’s last USDA inspection was Feb. 2, 2021. At that time, inspectors noted, “The inability of the facility to maintain appropriate bedding and improper insulation of shelters may lead to hypothermia and undo suffering of these animals.”

On February 19, 2021 officials confiscated the animals and they were placed at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.

USDA Inspection reports:

2016082569824875_Complete (1)
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Download PDF • 19KB

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2016082569760819_Complete (1)
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