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Embattled Adirondack Wildlife Refuge relocates its animals

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Steve Hall with wolf Cree on the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington on this Explorer file photograph by Mike Lynch

Bear dies after transfer to Maine

By Gwendolyn Craig

The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge has discovered new houses for its dozen animals regulated by the state, although an escapist black bear died shortly after arriving at its new vacation spot. The transfers mark the tip of an period for house owners Steve and Wendy Hall, who gave quite a few academic shows involving wolves, bears and bald eagles.

Wendy Hall was the only real state and federal license holder for the Wilmington refuge and was pressured to search out new houses for the animals after relinquishing her authorization to proceed working the refuge. Steve Hall and others labored below her as designated brokers. A stream of information courting again to 2015 present the Halls and their employees had lined up animal escapes, made false statements to regulators and steadily operated with out correct licenses.

Earlier this 12 months the state Department of Environmental Conservation notified Wendy Hall it might revoke her remaining wildlife licenses. In July, Wendy Hall surrendered them. The DEC prolonged an Oct. 25 deadline to permit her time to relocate a number of of the animals. Nature Walks Conservation Society, a nonprofit group primarily based out of Massachusetts, assisted with the placements. 

The refuge has reported all animals have now been despatched to new houses, the DEC mentioned. 

Steve Hall mentioned a Eurasian lynx named Kayla is at a brief residence with a rehabilitation specialist. The lynx was exhibiting indicators of stress when employees ready it for a flight to its remaining vacation spot in Oregon, in order that they have since modified plans. Staff now intend to drive the lynx to a rescue facility in Florida in a couple of week, Steve Hall mentioned in a Nov. 1 e mail to the Adirondack Explorer. 

Most of the opposite transfers seem to have been profitable besides one with a tragic finish.

Ahote, a five-year-old feminine black bear the Halls raised since she was a cub, died about 36 hours after arriving on the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine. The park is an academic facility with over 30 totally different species. It is run by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. 

Mark Latti, communications director for the division, mentioned the wildlife park was excited to welcome Ahote and her companion Luvey. The park had been residence to 2 black bears, however each just lately died at ages 28 and 35. Black bears typically dwell round 30 years within the wild.

The refuge’s two coyotes and the pair of bears, two of the Halls’ extra well-known animals, have been transported to Maine on the finish of October. The bears had escaped their Adirondack enclosure twice, as soon as in 2019 and once more in 2021. 

Latti mentioned an impartial vet examined Ahote’s physique and decided she had died from “capture myopathy.” The non-infectious illness is brought on when an animal overexerts itself and their bodily techniques shut down. Latti mentioned the illness is extra widespread in deer than in bears, but it surely has been identified to occur to many animals when they’re relocated or captured. Latti mentioned employees on the wildlife park seen Ahote was nervous, pacing and working when she arrived at their facility. Steve Hall mentioned the identify Ahote means “restless one.”

Luvey seemed to be doing effectively and adjusting, and so have been the 2 coyotes, Latti mentioned.

Steve Hall mentioned handlers from the Maine Wildlife Park arrived on the refuge and helped carry Luvey and Ahote to journey containers that have been meant for lions. The Maine employees did “everything by the book,” Steve Hall mentioned, and he didn’t blame them for Ahote’s demise. 

He did blame the DEC for not reviewing wildlife license functions from proposed successors quickly sufficient to maintain the bears and different animals on the refuge and forestall the switch. 

The DEC blamed the Halls. “The transport could have been prevented if the Halls had cooperated with DEC’s multiple attempts to bring AWR (Adirondack Wildlife Refuge) into compliance during repeated violations of state and federal laws, regulations and license conditions that are in place to protect public safety, native wildlife, and regulated animals possessed under licenses issued by DEC,” a DEC spokesperson responded, including that Ahote’s demise was “a very sad and unfortunate event.”

“The DEC always claims that they are protecting the public and the animals, but the real result of forcing us to rehome the wolves, bears, etc. has been the loss of a key educational center for students, as well as an economic benefit to High Peaks hotels, restaurants and other merchants,” Steve Hall wrote. “We can now add to this dubious distinction the death of Ahote, as well as half the raptors the regulatory bodies insisted that we rehome.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had related dealings with the Halls when it got here to long-term violations with migratory birds and bald eagles. The federal company denied renewing Wendy Hall’s licenses for working with birds, and initially of January 2020, she was ordered to search out new houses for all these in her possession. Steve Hall mentioned they’d warned regulators that most of the birds have been older and transferring them “did not bode well.” Steve Hall claimed that about six birds had died after getting relocated.

Earlier, the Halls and the Nature Walks Conservation Society needed the refuge’s normal supervisor Hanna Cromie and employees member Donald Tourtellot to tackle the wildlife licenses and maintain the animals on the refuge. The DEC denied their functions, citing false statements and different violations the 2 participated in on the refuge. Cromie and Tourtellot, in written depositions filed with the DEC throughout Ahote and Luvey’s first escape, admitted to breaking a tree to make it appear to be the bears’ escape was an “act of God.” The bears had truly dug out of their enclosure and rambled into the woods. At that point, the Halls didn’t have a fringe fence as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Kevin and Jackie Woodcock, who Steve Hall mentioned have been serving to them improve the refuge’s animal enclosures, have utilized for these wildlife licenses now. Steve Hall mentioned the DEC has denied that it acquired the functions, however the DEC instructed the Explorer it acquired these functions and is reviewing them. Jackie Woodcock and Steve Hall each write once in a while for the Explorer’s community-run discussion board, the Adirondack Almanack. 

Steve Hall mentioned Wendy Hall is dying of most cancers. They proceed to dwell on the refuge property, although Steve Hall mentioned Wendy Hall is now not a part of the refuge’s administration. He hopes the Woodcocks and others can take over. The Nature Walks Conservation Society can be working with the refuge. Its board of administrators contains the Halls’ son and daughter-in-law, Dan and Magdalena. 

“Don’t worry about the Wildlife Refuge,” Steve Hall wrote in a remark. “We’re not going anywhere, and will be reorganizing, bringing forth more education on various topics.”

The DEC mentioned the refuge can function if the Halls and the ability keep freed from state-regulated wildlife and don’t interact in wildlife rehabilitation or one other exercise below “DEC jurisdiction.”


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