CHARLESTOWN, Ind. — Eighteen people walked onto the Wildlife in Need property Friday morning to conduct an inspection. It's the first time in nearly three years they were allowed in.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office was granted access to inspect the animals, their habitats, documents and any locations related to animal care.
A Marion County Superior judge ruled in favor of the Indiana Attorney General’s office for the inspection last week after a preliminary injunction hearing. The motion was filed in regards to the agency’s lawsuit aiming to shut down Wildlife in Need for good.
The judge gave the attorney general’s office two eight hour days to complete the inspection, which would be about four minutes per animal for evaluation.Tim Starks owns hundreds of various types of animals.
The attorney general’s office brought multiple animal welfare experts to inspect the animals, investigators to document the inspection and attorneys who are working on the case. Deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Department were there to provide security.
The inspection was closed from public view, but many neighbors WHAS11's Shay McAlister talked to knew it was happening. Some expressed mixed feelings about the recent attention on Wildlife in Need.
"Tim is a good neighbor, he's kind of a rough guy as far as far as how he comes across to the public but he's got a big heart and I know he loves them animals,” Mac Hulsey said.
Husley said he moved to the street in the early 1990s and has lived there since Stark moved in and built on the property. "Tim is not bothering anybody back there and I think he goes out of his way to try to keep things safe."
But behind Stark's property, other neighbors tell a different story. One pulled out pictures of a dead leopard. She explained the leopard was shot and killed by neighbors after it attacked multiple cats and dogs.
PHOTOS | Wildlife In Need Leopard killed after attacking pets, neighbor says
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources responded to the incident and department officials never documented where the leopard came from. But a USDA report detailed their belief that the leopard had escaped from Wildlife in Need and belonged to Tim Stark.
"I don't think Mr. Stark realizes the danger- I think he's only trying to think of himself,” Linda Bashom said.
Bashom lives nearby where the leopard was shot, nearly a quarter mile from Stark. She said she is worried about the safety and the safety of her pets. "It’s concerning to us. We watch when we take the dog out before we go to bed that there's not something out in the yard that shouldn't be, that's not native to the United States. That's what worries me.
She also said she worries about the animals on Stark’s property. "Its sad- those animals don't deserve what he's giving them. And I do- I hope he's shut down,” Bashom said.
This inspection is the most recent act in a lengthy lawsuit filed by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to shut down Wildlife in Need and ban Tim Stark from ever owning exotic animals again.
Agency representatives said if they find animals in danger or distress during the inspection they will go back to the judge and ask for another order to remove the animals from his property.
A judge has ordered that findings from the inspection will be sealed.
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