Lions, big cats cause uproar in Hillsboro neighborhood

The animal farm has been in Hillsboro since 2016

Tim Becker and KOIN 6 News Staff - HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) -- Owners of an exotic animal collection have been cited by Washington County for violating land use rules following neighbor complaints.

According to the county, the property is zoned exclusively for farm use and they said having lions and tigers doesn't fall under that definition.

However, owners of A Walk on the Wild Side said they'll go to court to prove the county wrong.

Co-owner Steve Higgs said, "As far as we see, we are not doing anything wrong."

The Hillsboro property is still highly farm-oriented with a pasture, orchards and equine facility. They also raise sheep, goats and cows. However, multiple neighbors voiced their concerns after lions and other big cats moved in.

"We're getting complaints from neighbors who are complaining about the noise level and of course, they have safety concerns as well," Melissa De Lyser, Washington County spokesperson said.

Higgs told KOIN 6 News he has his licensing and certification from agencies like the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

He also said they've never had any animals escape or hurt people.

The exotic animal farm was in business in Canby for 7 years before it was shut down for multiple violations.

According to Clackamas County inspectors, the farm was violating both zoning and building codes.

While Higgs said his business is just a "different kind of agriculture," the county has issued 2 citations to him for feeding, breeding and management of exotic animals and sales of products of exotic animals on farm-zoned property without a permit.

The exotic animal farm harvests and sells tiger manure to farmers, who then use it to ward of other animals like coyotes and deer.

"We are just trying to do what we are legally obligated to do, which is to enforce our ordinances and codes to the best of our ability," De Lyser said.

Higgs said they'll continue to battle the county and are willing to go to court if need be.

 

A hearing is set for late October.


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