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Charlestown Wildlife Refuge Faces Backlash Following New Video

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating a wildlife refuge in southern Indiana that’s accused of abusing a bear cub in a video posted to social media.

The advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a complaint against Wildlife in Need concerning a video of owner Tim Stark interacting with a baby bear during one of the refuge's shows.

Jenni Janes of the PETA Foundation says this is just one example of the many concerns the organization has about Wildlife in Need.

"Bears and big cat cubs are not play things and they are not entertainment," Janes says. "All of theses animals should be released to reputable sanctuaries that can give them the respectful care that they deserve."

PETA filed an official complaint with the USDA concerning the incident.

USDA representative Pamela Manns says the complaint will be included in the ongoing investigation into Stark and the refuge that has been open since 2013.

In the past, the USDA has cited Stark with physically abusing animals with a riding crop. The USDA cited Stark for multiple non-compliance violations during his last USDA inspection, including refusing to allow inspectors access to his property following a tense and armed exchange at the property's gate.

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Wildlife in Need describes itself as a “nonprofit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of native species as well as the provision of safe harbor to an array of Ambassadors from exotic and endangered species.”

Tim Stark did not return multiple requests for comment, but said in a statement on Facebook that PETA deceptively edited the video.

"Our first priority is animal care," Stark said in the statement. "We rely on our supporters who know from first hand experience what the truth is."

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