Local Animal Exhibitor Under Fire From Feds and PETA for Operating Without a License

For Immediate Release:
August 24, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382

Sandstone, Minn.

After PETA repeatedly alerted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for years that Lee Greenly, the owner of local “game” farm Minnesota Wildlife Connection, was continuing to offer staged photo shoots with wolves, cougars, bears, and other wild animals despite the revocation of his exhibitor’s license in 2013, the agency just issued him a critical repeat citation for operating without a license. The USDA previously fined Greenly nearly $25,000 in 2019 for continuing to exhibit without a license and for selling two wolf pups and a cougar kitten to a roadside zoo in Wisconsin and cited him for operating without a license in 2018.

Ten years ago, the USDA revoked Greenly’s license and fined him nearly $12,000 for 17 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including that he was ineligible for a license because he’d been convicted of felony wildlife crimes. He was convicted on two charges for helping hunters shoot two bears and a coyote at illegal baiting stations he maintained inside a national wildlife refuge and on one charge of falsifying records after he allowed a country music singer to kill a bear in a confined area with a bow and arrow and tried to claim he was a lawfully hunted wild animal.

Photos from a 2018 USDA inspection of Lee Greenly, obtained by PETA through a Freedom of Information Act request

“Lee Greenly has repeatedly shown a brazen disregard for animals’ lives, public safety, and the law,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA will continue to keep Minnesota Wildlife Connection on the feds’ radar, and we’re asking everyone to do their part by staying away from shady animal-exploiting operations like this one.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Greenly was also previously cited after a wolf in his custody attacked a child during a photo shoot in a state park and after he brought a bear to a school and allowed students to feed the animal gummy worms from their own mouths. The bear bit an adult accompanying the children, and she had to be hospitalized for five days.

Animals at game-farm facilities such as Minnesota Wildlife Connection are typically kept on chains or confined to cramped, barren cages. They are deprived of food and sometimes even forced to perform under the threat of electric shocks. Photographers and game-farm operators often try to pass off staged scenes as images of animals in nature.

PETA opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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