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Wildlife Photographer Accused of Staging Scenes

February 9, 1996

DENVER (AP) _ Marty Stouffer, the wildlife photographer who created the popular PBS series ``Wild America,″ has been accused of staging fights between predators and filming supposedly wild scenes in cages.

The allegations were made by former Stouffer employees and others, and were reported Friday by The Denver Post.

Stouffer told the Post that he has never staged confrontations between animals but that ``staging″ could be a matter of interpretation.

``Sometimes we will take a tame animal out for a walk, and if a chase develops, we will film it,″ he said.

Officials at the Public Broadcasting Service said they were unaware of the allegations but planned to talk to Stouffer about them. PBS has run 10 ``Wild America″ segments a year for the past 11 years.

``Mr. Stouffer’s integrity has never been questioned before,″ said Kathy Quattrone, vice president for programming.

Chris Moaklin, who raises animals near Aspen, said she rented several raccoons to Stouffer 12 years ago. For one scene, she told the paper, Stouffer tied a rabbit to a post with a fishing line, then let a raccoon attack it.

``You could see the fishing line,″ Moaklin said. ``It looked totally staged. ... I won’t work with Stouffer anymore. He’s too exploitative of the animals.″

Stouffer told The Associated Press he couldn’t remember ever meeting Moaklin, and he denied the allegations.

Former employees, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Post that some of the scenes Stouffer shot for ``Wild America,″ including some in which animals were killed, were filmed in cages. The cages were edited out so the scenes appeared to be filmed in the wild, they said.

They told the Post that a scene of a mountain lion jumping on a mule deer was shot in a pen and that Stouffer arranged for a mountain lion and lynx to fight to the death.

In an interview with the AP, Stouffer denied all the allegations. ``My conscious is clear. I love animals. I’m not a bad guy. I’m not cruel. I don’t torture animals,″ he said.

In December, a jury awarded $300,000 to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, which had sued Stouffer for building a trail through its property.

The jury concluded Stouffer had caused severe damage to the property, including cutting down numerous trees up to 110 years old.

Previously, the U.S. Forest Service said the trail led to an illegal hunting camp next to an elk migration path in a national forest.

Stouffer pleaded guilty in 1993 to building the camp, was fined $3,000 and was ordered to remove it, which he did. Stouffer maintained it was not a hunting camp.

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