The following is an open letter to Mayor & Council on behalf of Concerned Citizens of Sault Ste. Marie & 279,000 other supporters worldwide.
We, a group of Concerned Citizens, have concerns with the way in which our City Council has dealt with the recent bylaw prohibiting Zoos in Sault Ste Marie.
A) Councillors did not do their due diligence in researching all sides of the issue before deciding to exempt Spruce Haven from the Bylaw banning Zoos
B) Councillors admitted to knowing little about wild animals and some to even ever having visited Spruce Haven Zoo
C) Councillors did not read the Assessment Report by Wildlife Expert Dr. Martyn Obbard who identified violations of The OSPCA and OMNRF licence in 2017
D) Councillors acknowledged that there is no expertise locally to deal with or assess wild animals in Captivity, yet disregarded Experts and Professionals who came to address City Council
E) Councillors did not seek out the Experience and Opinions of the OSPCA and OMNRF to address Council on recent visits to Spruce Haven.
F) Councillors have not considered the Animal Welfare Issues involved, choosing only to react to a serious incident involving the escape of a Wolf.
G) Councillors disregarded international, regional and local concerns as revealed in combined petitions totalling approximately 280,000 individuals as well as negative reviews from Trip Advisor
H) Councillors accepted the word of The Spruce Haven Owner that the fencing Issue would be addressed after a verified wolf escape.
I) Councillors accepted the word of the Owner that there was a Succession plan being developed should the Owners be unable to continue their care of the facility.
J) Councillors accepted the word of the Owners that moving the Lions, who are currently being kept in violation of current laws, would have to be euthanized if required to leave the Zoo
K) Councillors accepted the word of the Owners claim that “tons and tons” of people told him moving the older Carnivores would be harmful to them, although a Wildlife Sanctuary Professional previously informed Council that this was untrue.
L) Councillors did not request the reports of those who told the Owners that moving older animals was not recommended. They did not ask for names or qualifications of the persons the Owners claimed they spoke to.
M) Councillors accepted the statements made by the Owner that when the Bear paces, it is a reaction to an impending storm or to perfume. They did not seek any further explanation for this behaviour by a Wildlife Expert.
N) Councillors accepted the word of the Owner that there are resources and ongoing funding available for improvements to the Enclosures and care for the animals
O) Councillors accepted the statement that the OSPCA and the Owners have a ongoing good working relationship.
P) Councillors accepted the word of the Owner that the incident of the Wolf escape was not a serious issue, both to the public and to the Wolf
Q) Councillors accepted the word of the Owners that there would be no new animals added to the Zoo, even though the Wolves have had a litter of pups.
Now that Spruce haven Zoo will most likely be exempt from the Bylaw prohibiting Zoos, we, as Residents wish to be provided with the following information:
1. Who will inspect and ensure the fencing of the Carnivores and the Perimeter fencing is adequate and up to Standard?
2. Who will be responsible if another Wolf escape leads to an incident involving property, pets or persons?
3. Who will ensure and verify the Wolves have been spayed/neutered so that the agreement to not acquire more animals is complied with?
4. If one of the animals should fall ill or become injured and requires specialized veterinary care, who will be providing this care and how will funds be obtained?
5. Where is the Emergency Evacuation plan for review, and who will review and approve this?
6. What is the source of funding to ensure appropriate conditions and care for the animals can be sustained?
7. Will a detailed Succession Plan submitted for review?
8. Will the results of the Police investigation regarding allegations of sabotage to the Wolves’ enclosure be shared with the public?
This issue again will be before Council on Monday as the Bylaw prohibiting Zoos in Sault Ste Marie with the Grandfathering clause being added for Spruce Haven.
We believe, if our City is to embrace a more forward thinking mentality to showcase our city for growth, we need to be in step with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, our City has chosen to allow a substandard, roadside Zoo to operate here with very little, if any accountability.
When Councillors are presented with issues, it is their responsibility to do their research and hear all sides so that they can make an informed decision. It is their obligation to respond to correspondence and concerns from ALL citizens. With a few exceptions, our City Councillors have done neither of these things. We hope that Constituents will remember the handling of this issue come election time, and choose City Leadership wisely.
Signed, Concerned Citizens of Sault Ste Marie (as well as support from 279,000 individuals who signed petitions worldwide)