Local Wild-Animal Exhibitor Loses Federal License After Numerous Welfare Violations

For Immediate Release:
October 23, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382

Bozeman, Mont.

Following a complaint from PETA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has terminated the federal license of notorious wild-animal exhibitor Animals of Montana (AOM), making it illegal for the business to continue trucking animals all over the country to use as living props in movies and advertisements.

Over its mor9e than 20 years of business, AOM racked up numerous citations for violating animal welfare regulations, among other laws, including allowing a tiger to escape during a photo shoot and then directing a member of the public to threaten the animal with a weed whacker as well as placing employees in dangerous proximity to bears, leading to a fatal attack on a worker. PETA’s complaint pointed out that because AOM has violated state and federal laws pertaining to transportation, ownership, neglect, or welfare of animals—including 22 violations of Montana’s captive-animal regulations that resulted in the permanent revocation of its roadside menagerie permit—the USDA could and should terminate AOM’s federal Animal Welfare Act license. The agency agreed, writing that AOM owner Troy Hyde’s “actions render him unfit to continue operating as an exhibitor.”

A lion is confined to a cage at AOM. Photo obtained by PETA through a Freedom of Information Act request

“After decades of caging wild animals in filth and shoving them into the spotlight, Animals of Montana is finally prohibited from exploiting animals for entertainment,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA is celebrating this victory for animals and encourages everyone to steer clear of roadside menageries and other tourist traps that use animals as props.”

After PETA filed its complaint in June, the USDA began the process of terminating AOM’s license in July—and the business never contested any of the allegations in the agency’s complaint. The USDA previously terminated AOM’s license in 2009 for violating the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act but granted Hyde a new license two years later. Since then, AOM has accrued 29 more violations of state and federal laws, including keeping wolves in unsanitary and “overcrowded” cages, allowing a fisher to escape, and failing to properly secure the cages of potentially dangerous animals.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—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 X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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