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BEARCAT owners indicted

Krafts face 55 federal charges

By Matthew Stolle

mstolle@postbulletin.com

While the owners of BEARCAT Hollow billed their wildlife park as a permanent home of rare animals, raising money for their upkeep, they were illegally trafficking in them, federal prosecutors say.

That is the central complaint in a 55-count indictment filed in federal court against Kenneth Kraft and his wife, Nancy Kraft, on Thursday.

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It accuses the Krafts of illegally selling or buying more than $200,000 worth of endangered species, including tigers, grizzly bears and leopards. Customers and sources came from all over the country, including Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.

The Krafts and seven other people are accused of violating the Endangered Species Act and Lacy Act, which prohibits the interstate sale of endangered or threatened animals.

The indictment lists 35 illegal transactions involving the Krafts, including grizzly bears, tiger cubs and spotted leopards.

The complaint also alleges Kenneth Kraft tampered with a witness during the federal investigation. If convicted of that charge, he could face 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Krafts and other defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of violating wildlife laws.

Robert Richman, attorney for Nancy Kraft, said he had no comment on the indictment, according to the Associated Press. The attorney for Kenneth Kraft, Andrea George, was not available Thursday.

BEARCAT is an acronym for Beautiful, Endangered and Rare, Conservation and Therapy. It once covered 25 acres and contained as many as 300 animals.

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