DEP INSPECTS TIGER PRESERVE; STAY ORDER LIFTED
A recent state inspection of the Tigers Only Preservation Society (TOPS)
in Jackson Twp. has revealed the facility is in violation of a order that
has allowed the tigers to remain at the facility while an appeal of its
permit revocation is pending.
State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspectors on Nov.
3 found deer carcasses fed to tigers are not refrigerated and tigers have
not been separated to avoid breeding.
As a result, DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn today sent a letter to TOPS attorney
Valter H. Must, notifying him that the stay order is no longer valid,
and unless an appeal is filed with the Appellate Division, TOPS must submit
a plan to relocate all the tigers. The plan must be submitted to DEP's
Division of Fish & Wildlife by Nov. 18.
Area residents have complained the deer carcasses are creating odors.
DEP also is concerned about lack of efforts to separate tigers to prevent
breeding. Organizations willing to take the tigers also have expressed
concern that the TOPS tiger population not increase, so that the number
of tigers to be relocated remains manageable.
In June, Shinn granted a stay to Joan Byron-Marasek, permitting her to
keep her tigers while she appealed the department's decision to revoke
her permit. In granting the stay, Shinn imposed strict conditions allowing
Ms. Marasek to temporarily keep the tigers at the preserve and stated
in his order that the stay will only remain in effect if she cooperates
in meeting strict requirements and inspections.
At that time, Shinn stated, "I am granting a conditional stay for the
duration of the appeals process, but the stay will be removed if any of
the conditions is violated. I believe it's in everyone's best interest
to allow the legal process take full course before issuing a final order
to remove the animals. These conditions address our concerns regarding
the recent deaths of two tiger cubs and the concerns of neighbors about
reported odors of storing deer carcasses at the facility."