Court Will Name Monitor for Waystation
Wildlife Waystation, the troubled animal sanctuary near Lake View Terrace, has admitted violating the terms of its three-year probation for altering stream beds and agreed to the court appointment of a special master to monitor compliance, county prosecutors said Thursday.
The agreement will extend probation for another three years at the 120-acre refuge, home to grizzly bears, tigers, and other exotic animals.
It also requires the waystation to stop discharging pollutants, animal and human waste into state waters, to repair deficient cages and fix gaps in fences.
“This is a very positive move,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Miller. “The waystation seems to be ready to roll. They’re cooperative, they’re positive, and they’ve made every indication that they intend to make this work.”
The waystation was barred from accepting new animals or giving public tours in April, after state Department of Fish and Game officials found workers hosing animal waste off cages, possibly endangering nearby creeks. Other alleged violations included cages that were too small or too crowded.
In May, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office asked the court to impose stiffer conditions on the facility.
Martine Colette, director and founder of the 25-year-old Wildlife Waystation, said she was very pleased with the agreement filed Thursday in Newhall Superior Court.
“I’m excited to have a special master that will assist us in our negotiations with the Department of Fish and Game,” Colette said, adding that she hopes the facility will reopen in a matter of days.
The refuge, a favorite charity of Hollywood celebrities such as actress Dyan Cannon, says it has rehabilitated more than 4,000 injured wild animals annually, with as many as 1,200 in its cages at any given time. More than 300,000 people a year have visited the facility.
The court will now appoint a special master, an objective observer familiar with California’s rules for housing and caring for exotic animals. The special master will visit the waystation as often as needed “to report to the court on the progress of the remediation of violations,” according to the stipulation signed by Miller and Byron Countryman, the waystation’s attorney.
Both the wildlife refuge and the district attorney’s office can nominate candidates for the post. The special master will draw up a list of specific remedies the waystation must perform during its probation.
The court is scheduled to appoint the special master at a July 27 hearing.