In November 2012, a Montana animal trainer was mauled and killed by a bear while cleaning its cage. 24-year-old Benjamin Cloutier was an animal trainer at Animals of Montana, which trains animals for photography, TV, and Movies.
Now, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is issuing fines against Animals of Montana in connection with the incident. In particular, the business has been cited for “allowing employees to have unrestricted, direct contact with grizzly bears.” OSHA has also cited Animals of Montana for a violation related to failing “to report an occupational fatality within eight hours.” The citations carry $9,000 in fines.
“This is a tragedy that could have – and should have – been prevented,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s Billings-area director. “The use of a secondary holding area while cleaning cages is standard practice when working with animals capable of being dangerous to workers responsible for their care.”
According to its website, Animals of Montana prides itself in over 20 years of experience raising and training animals. The Facebook post below shows the bear, named Griz, that was responsible for the attack on Cloutier. Griz was put down immediately following the incident.