Letter to the editor

August 30, 2013

How can Governor Pat McCrory appoint Principle Chief Michell Hicks commissioner on the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission?

Look how he cares for animals in road side zoos on the Qualla Boundary!

September 18, 2012 - Finally after the cruelty and inhumane conditions at the Chief Saunook’s Bear Zoo was exposed to the public by a video the USDA had to do their job and close down that facility. There are 2 more road side zoos still in business on the Cherokee Reservation. In 2013 Cherokee elders and other tribal members have gone before the Chief and Tribal Council numerous times asking for the closure of those zoos. They have not been heard, nothing has improved.

Plight of the Cherokee Bears NOW

The Cherokee Bear Zoo and Santa’s Land continue to keep our scared animals in inhumane conditions, even after being cited repeatedly by the USDA. The Cherokee elders said “We know in our hearts that this is wrong and we need to stop it now. These bears can be moved to accredited sanctuaries as soon as these zoos are closed. How long do they have to wait and suffer?”

Look at the Bear FACTS!

Santa’s Land keep their cubs and bears in an eight foot high chain link fence on a hard dirt floor or an extremely small cage with concrete floor. The cubs are fed baby bottles of sugar sweetened drinks. Santa’s Land deals with bear breeders who take the cubs away from their mothers every year. At the end of Santa’s Land season as the cubs are approaching adulthood and are sent off. According to NC Certificates of Veterinary Inspections at least 14 of their bears have been sent to Gregg Woody in Illinois. The USDA has reported that Gregg Woody has the bears slaughtered!

Cherokee Bear Zoo keeps cubs that have been removed from their mothers in cages designed for birds! The adult bears are housed in concrete pits with high cinder block walls and concrete floors. The Cherokee Bear Zoo has been repeatedly cited by the USDA for animal welfare violations including:

Inadequate veterinary care

Receiving an insufficient amount of food to maintain good health

Inadequate protection from the sun forcing them to be exposed to terrific heat in the pits.

Thus making it difficult to walk due to blistering of their feet!

Their feet never touch the earth and they are not allowed to hibernate. Their cubs are taken shortly after birth.

Principle Chief Hicks words are certainly not demonstrated - “Our tribe has long been committed to environmental preservation and sustainability and this appointment represents a natural extension of the work we have been doing for many years on the Qualla Boundary and in Western North Carolina.”

Cheryl Ward

Swannanoa, NC