TACOMA — The Olympic Game Farm has asked a federal judge to reconsider a recent order denying the Game Farm’s motion to dismiss portions of a lawsuit, arguing that it never admitted to unlawfully possessing Roosevelt elk and that the judge stated unproven allegations as fact.
Last month U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton denied the Game Farm’s motion to dismiss certain elements of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit, calling the Game Farm’s motion “an attempt to prune this ‘Bonsai tree’ with tweezers and fingernail clippers.”
“That is not an accurate characterization,” the Game Farm said in its motion to reconsider.
“There are more than 320 animals at the Olympic Game Farm and as few as eight of those animals are subject to the Endangered Species Act: two lions, four tigers, one Canadian lynx and (possibly) one brown bear — all of which came to the Olympic Game Farm because they needed a new home and could not be cared for by their prior owners.”
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sued Olympic Game Farm in December, alleging that the Sequim-area business is in violation of the Endangered Species Act and asking the court to require the Game Farm to give up its endangered or threatened species to a sanctuary.
The Game Farm filed a motion in March to dismiss the state public nuisance and animal cruelty claims, saying state law does not recognize private cause of action to enforce cruelty laws.
The Game Farm’s motion to dismiss “sought to focus this action on [Endangered Species Act] claims because no Washington court has ever endorsed a public nuisance claim to enforce alleged violation of animal cruelty laws or other wildlife laws,” the Game Farm wrote in the motion to reconsider.
The Game Farm objected to a portion of Leighton’s order that said the Game Farm admitted to violating state law that make it unlawful for a non-accredited facility to possess Roosevelt Elk.
The Game Farm did admit to possessing Roosevelt Elk and it did admit to being a non-accredited facility. However, the Game Farm said it was exempted from a statute that makes it illegal for non-accredited facilities to possess Roosevelt Elk.
“ALDF seems to believe that Olympic Game Farm admitted a violation by admitting that it possesses Roosevelt Elk … but ALDF is apparently unfamiliar with the law in Washington,” the Game Farm wrote.
“Game farms were exempted by statute in 2007 … in an amendment supported jointly by Olympic Game Farm and the Humane Society of the United States.
“Olympic Game Farm thus lawfully possesses Roosevelt Elk and has done so for more than 40 years.”
The Game Farm also objected to a portion of Leighton’s order that said ALDF members “have been ‘specially injured’” and that “in fact, OGF is mistreating and abusing animals.”
Those are allegations that are not based on admissible evidence, the Game Farm said.
The Game Farm also objects to being called a “roadside zoo.”
In its motion to reconsider the Game Farm said that it is more than 80 acres, nearly three times the size of Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and is only slightly smaller than the 92-acre Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
Trial is currently scheduled for May 2020.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].