Investigation into wildlife center focuses on animal neglect

BEND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon State Police have opened a criminal investigation into the High Desert Wildlife Center.

The Bend Bulletin reports that Capt. Bill Fugate confirmed the investigation on Friday. He says the probe focuses on animal neglect and permit violations.

Center co-founder, Jeff Cooney, gave up his permit in August and couldn't be reached for comment.

On Aug. 16, state officials took most of its animals and either released them, transferred them to other centers or euthanized them. The center shut down after that.

Fugate says his agency was notified by the police last week. When completed, he says he expects they will turn it over to the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office.

A former volunteer told The Bulletin she stopped working there because she was frustrated by the chaotic and unclean environment. She said bird enclosures were too small and some birds died of starvation or dehydration.

The center's recorded message says it's "on a short break" and will reopen in September.



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