A wildlife sanctuary near Portland, Oregon has been cited and fined $5,600 for allegedly violating key safety protocols enforced by the state, which likely contributed to the mauling and death of a sanctuary worker in November. Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) began an investigation of the WildCat Haven refuge after the bloodied body of employee Renee Radziwon-Chapman was discovered inside a cougar enclosure last year.
OSHA's findings indicate that Radziwon-Chapman was alone at the time she was mauled by two cougars, who were roaming freely inside their enclosure, in violation of the state's two-person safety mandate. According to cell phone messages uncovered during the investigation, Radziwon-Chapman had spoken repeatedly with the sanctuary's owner, Cheryl Tuller, about "the need for more help" in animal care.
"This organization didn't have a large number of employees and it had allowed other people to work alone with the cats in the past," Michael Wood, an Oregon OSHA administrator, told the Associated Press. "The employers clearly knew the keeper was working alone. It was a frequent occurrence, it happened with some regularity."