AP NEWS

Judge rejects Washington state game farm dismissal request

May 29, 2019

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss an animal mistreatment lawsuit against a Washington state wildlife farm, handing an initial victory to animal rights activists, a report said.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued Olympic Game Farm in December, saying the Sequim-area business is in violation of the Endangered Species Act, Peninsula Daily News reported Tuesday.

The lawsuit asks the court to require the drive-thru wildlife exhibit 95 miles (153 kilometers) northwest of Tacoma to give away its endangered or threatened species to a sanctuary.

The decision allows the lawsuit to move forward. The two sides must hold a settlement conference and enter mediation by the end of March 2020 and prepare for a trial scheduled for May 2020.

The Game Farm filed a motion in March to dismiss state public nuisance and animal cruelty claims, saying state law does not recognize private cause of action to enforce cruelty laws.

The state limits who can bring a public nuisance claim, but a private party must show special injury distinct from what the general public has suffered, according to the dismissal order by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton.

The Game Farm attempting to isolate the public nuisance claim from the lawsuit was “an attempt to prune this ‘Bonsai tree’ with tweezers and fingernail clippers,” Leighton wrote.

The farm already acknowledged violating state law, “namely that they are not accredited but ‘possess or display Roosevelt Elk,’” Leighton said.

Roosevelt elk is one of the species the state bars non-accredited facilities from possessing, Leighton said.

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Information from: Peninsula Daily News, http://www.peninsuladailynews.com

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