County Attorney Says He Can't Fulfill PETA's Request - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

County Attorney Says He Can't Fulfill PETA's Request

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BOZEMAN -

Animal-rights advocates asked a Gallatin County attorney to file criminal charges after a Bozeman-area animal trainer was killed by a captive brown bear.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert a letter Wednesday asking him to file charges against Troy Hyde, the owner of Animals of Montana.

Animals of Montana is a wildlife casting agency near Bozeman. They house and train animals for photos and video.

Last November, an investigation showed Benjamin Cloutier fell and became unconscious while cleaning the bear enclosure. One of the bears then fatally mauled him.

Delcianna Winders is PETA's Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement. She said Hyde allegedly knew his employees were at risk.

"He knew every time he had one of his employees go into contact with a dangerous animal he was putting them at risk of death," said Winders.

Lambert said there is nothing he can do.

"There is no case to review," said Lambert. "I have no decision to make, unless the sheriff or some other state agency would request prosecution."

At the time of Cloutier's death, the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigated the accident, but didn't turn it over to the county attorney.

Lambert said he understands why the organization sent the letter, but he said they sent it to the wrong office.

"I'm aware of their concerns, but they are going to have to make those concerns to investigators," said Lambert.

Winders said this move was in the public's best interest. 

"We think criminal action is what is really needed to protect people," said Winders.

Lambert said he doesn't think the sheriff will ask for prosecution.

ABC/FOX Montana reached out to Animals of Montana this afternoon. They did not wish to comment at the moment because they just learned of the action Wednesday.

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