DEC removes 20 wild animals from sanctuary

SINCLAIRVILLE – Twenty illegally possessed animals were taken Tuesday from JNK’s Call of the Wild Sanctuary.

New York State Depart-ment of Environmental Con-servation seized the animals in a joint effort with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Internation-al Fund for Animal Welfare. The animals included 12 tigers, three lions, three bears and two wolves.

“Ending the illegal possession of dangerous, wild and exotic animals, and ensuring the safety of the public is a top priority for DEC,” said Regional Director Abby Snyder. “I would like to thank our federal partner, USDA, and especially the tremendous efforts and assistance provided by IFAW in locating the several organizations that agreed to permanently house the animals.”

The animals have been permanently placed with several licensed facilities located outside of New York state. The placement facilities include the Exotic Fe-line Rescue Center, Big Cat Rescue, Safe Haven Rescue Zoo, InSync Exotics, Wild Animal Sanctuary and the Wolf Sanctuary of Pa.

DEC is proceeding with enforcement against owners of the animals and the JNK Facility, which is located on Millcreek Road, Sinclairville.

USDA Animal Welfare Act licenses and DEC special licenses are required for the possession, importation and sale of certain non-native wild animals for designated purposes, such as exhibition and education.

According to the DEC, the JNK Facility canceled its USDA license in February 2014 and DEC denied the renewal of the JNK Facility’s state special licenses in March 2014.

According to the DEC, three of the past four USDA inspections of the JNK Facility during the term of the USDA license were deemed unsatisfactory with several repeat deficiencies related to housing and care of the animals.

The facility was founded by Ken Wisniewski and his wife Jackie around 1995. In 2004, JNK became incorporated as a nonprofit organization, entirely dependent on donations. The Wisniewski’s stayed involved, as was their children Kristy and Scott.

Ken Wisniewski worked for Gemcor for 25 years, traveling for the business to Ireland, Russia, Japan and other countries. After Gemcore’s bankruptcy in 2008, he took the position of mechanical supervisor for Midway State Park.

In 2010, an accident during the takedown of a ride at Midway left Ken disabled. A head-on collision in 2011 on Route 394 in Randolph left Ken further disabled, breaking his upper neck.

On Oct. 21, 2013, Wisniewski died following an all-terrain vehicle accident.

At the time of the accident, Jackie vowed to keep the sanctuary running.

Calls to the facility were not returned Tuesday.