December 30, 2020
Press Release from Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center
Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center’s Survival Threatened By Landlord
At a time of wildlife’s greatest need, landlords jeopardize their sanctuary
Salem, Oregon — December 30, 2020 — Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center provides a rare and invaluable service in caring for injured and orphaned wildlife throughout the Willamette Valley. It is a precious resource and represents one of very few entities like it in Oregon. It is open 365 days a year, cares for over 2,500 animals annually, and it has endured for several years — even through 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The wildlife center has endeared itself to so many in the community as champions of a worthy and difficult mission. However, it now finds itself on the brink.
In early 2020, the wildlife center relocated its refuge and entered into a twenty-five-year lease for the property on which it now operates. This was to be the place where generations of wild animals would find sanctuary. The wildlife center paid its landlords, Dean Yeager and Amy Yeager, of Salem, Oregon for a full year of its lease in advance, and it expended substantial funds to the Yeagers for renovation of a building that was to be used by the wildlife center. The landlords then had a change of heart. With an incomplete building renovation leaving the structure uninhabitable, the landlords decided they wanted the wildlife refuge off of their property. The Yeagers attempted to raise the rent. They allowed a cattle operation onto the property just adjacent to the wildlife center, which substantially disrupted operations. They allowed the cattle occupants to carry on in ways that seriously distressed the wildlife and harassed wildlife center staff and volunteers. Finally, in the late Summer of 2020, the Yeagers brought legal action to evict the wildlife center. The lawsuit was filed shortly before the unprecedented wildfires ravaged so many in the region. And while the wildlife center endured and remained open to any and all wild animals affected by the devastation of the fires, the landlords remained fixed in their intent to oust the refuge.
“What my client has had to endure from the Yeagers over the past months despite the incredible work it does, I believe is unconscionable,” said R. Grant Cook, attorney for the wildlife refuge.
Cook states “we cannot allow such reprehensible conduct by landlords to go unchecked. The biggest tragedy here is that the refuge is forced to expend precious time and limited resources toward fighting this legal action brought by the Yeagers with the victims being the wildlife patients.”
The four-page complaint filed by the Yeagers alleges as the basis for its eviction claim that the wildlife center violated several provisions of the twenty-five-year lease. Amy Yeager and Dean Yeager v. Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center, Marion County Circuit Case No. 20LT04759.
In response, the wildlife center has asserted it is not in violation of the lease and that landlords have brought their action in bad faith.
Additionally, through separate action, the wildlife center seeks recovery of its payment to the landlords for the building renovation that was never complete. Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center v. Jackstone, Inc., Amy Yeager and Dean Yeager, Marion County Circuit Case No. 20CV33725 According to pleadings in the case, some of the infractions the landlords have imposed on wildlife center include harassment, breach of quiet enjoyment of the property, fraud and conversion. Cook believes that if the community, the state, even the country was aware of these wrongdoings against the wildlife, the public outcry would be considerable.
Board President, Mary Bliss, stated that she was shocked to find that the Yeagers were not financially stable. “They live in a mansion on the property. We weren’t aware of the bankruptcies filed. At the beginning there was so much enthusiasm. This is just crushing us”.
One of the primary missions of Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center is to enhance awareness and appreciation of the environment and to foster a connection between humans and Oregon’s native wildlife. Their vital work, including public education and outreach, is all accomplished by the tireless efforts of 4 employees and 12 volunteers working around the clock for their love of Oregon’s beautiful wildlife. “The community would like to thank YOU for all you do for our animals and wildlife!” commented Devin Klein, Facebook.
Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center – How to Help
Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center might be in need of a new property to operate depending on the outcome of litigation. Please call Mary Bliss at #503-362-9016 or Jessy Gill at 503-560-9035 to discuss. TRWC is also accepting financial donations in assisting with this crisis. https://donorbox.org/turtle-ridge-wildlife-center-1
For more information about the lawsuit:
For more information on Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center:
Turtle Ridge Wildlife
9483 Jackson Hill Rd S
Salem, OR 97306
Open Daily from 8:00am – 6:00pm
Director: Jessy Gill