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UPDATE: Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Newberry responds to USDA complaint

According to the filing, the USDA says it has reason to believe Oswald’s has “willfully violated the Animal Welfare Act.” Oswald’s says this is untrue.
Oswald's Bear Ranch and USDA logos.
Oswald's Bear Ranch and USDA logos.(OBR/USDA/WLUC)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:20 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 1:51 PM EDT
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NEWBERRY, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: Oct. 14: Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Newberry has responded to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) complaint recently filed against the bear ranch.

According to the filing, signed and dated Sept. 17, 2021, the USDA says it has reason to believe Oswald’s has “willfully violated the Animal Welfare Act.” (AWA)

Oswald’s disputes the claims made by the USDA in a statement sent to TV6 on Thursday. That full statement is below.

“Oswald’s Bear Ranch looks forward to it’s American justice ‘Day in Court’ to refute allegations now being rehashed and instigated by animal rights groups. Our legal team of, Fraser Trebilcock of Lansing is confident that we will prevail in showing that Oswald’s Bear Ranch has always abided by the rules of the federal (AWA) Animal Welfare Act.

“A second issue of the bear’s omnivore diet, after 30+ yrs of operation, has been found to be in compliance by our federal USDA Inspector after he received 8 separate complaints by PETA.

“The federal inspector’s latest findings document NO areas of noncompliance.

“Oswald’s Bear Ranch will continue to provide the finest natural environments and care for our rescued bears. Conservation and safety is our primary focus as ‘Animal-Visitor Interactions’ continue to be a favorite family friendly activity.”

TV6 has not heard back from the USDA about a request for more information sent on Oct. 13.

ORIGINAL STORY: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has filed a complaint with allegations against Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Newberry.

The USDA filing is against Dean Oswald, Jewel Oswald and Oswald’s Bear Ranch, LLC.

According to the filing, signed and dated Sept. 17, 2021, the USDA says it has reason to believe Oswald’s has “willfully violated the Animal Welfare Act.” (AWA)

Alleged violations against Oswald’s include failing “to provide outdoor housing that was structurally sound and in good repair” and failing “to provide wholesome, palatable food free from contamination and of sufficient nutritive value” to the bears at their facility.

For the housing enclosures, the USDA specifically cites an incident in April 2019, when two bears escaped from their enclosure, which eventually ended in one of the bears being shot and killed by the Luce County Sheriff’s Office.

As for the food allegation, the USDA says the facility didn’t give proper nutritional meals to the bears, because the facility fed them “restaurant scraps, donated meat, produce and dog food, as well as food high in fat and caloric content for the time of the year.”

The USDA complaint says the Oswald’s had to file a response to the USDA’s Office of the Hearing Clerk on the allegations.

“Failure to file an answer shall constitute an admission of all the material allegations in this complaint,” the USDA said in the complaint paperwork.

The USDA complaint did not list a date for when the bear ranch had to respond by.

TV6 has reached out to the USDA and Oswald’s Bear Ranch for comment and more information on this case. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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