Free the Bears from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians & Move Bears to a Sanctuary
  • Petitioned Jim Owle

This petition was delivered to:

Chairman Birdtown Community
Jim Owle
Vice Chairman Wolftown Community
Bill Taylor
Yellowhill Community
B Ensley
Wolftown Community
Mike Parker
Birdtown Community
Gene "Tunney" Crowe, Jr
Yellowhill Community
David Wolfe
Painttown community
tommye Saunooke
Paintttown Community
Terri Henry
Big Cove Community
Perry Shell
Big Cove community
Bo Taylor
Cherokee County/Snowbird
Diamond Brown
Snowbird Cherokee County

Free the Bears from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians & Move Bears to a Sanctuary

    1. millie bowling
    2. Petition by

      millie bowling

      Liberty, NC


The proponents of moving the caged bears in the holding facilities in and about Cherokee have finally received word that a Tribal Council work session is now schedule for March 6th giving an hour and one half to decide the fate of these bears.

The Principal Chief, Michelle Hicks, openly stated in a local television interview that he is opposed to moving the bears and that it would hurt the Cherokee economy.  There is also a proposal coming before council with a request to lease tribal land for a wildlife zoo and an animal rehabilitation center.  This proposal is being presented by the owners of the Cherokee Zoo who have many USDA violations over the past years.

So, in the best interest of the caged animals, a move to a healthy, more natural environment is the only humane action that should be entertained at this point.  Supposedly, the bears are in a hibernation state until the last of March for first of April when they will likely emerge with their new cubs.  They will be hungry and ready to begin their natural teaching roles as mothers, if they are allowed to do so.  It is believed that in the past, the older bears have been killed and the young cubs raised to take their place in the viewing holes.  One recipient of an old bear said “well, I guess that means I’ll lose my yearly supply of bear meat”.

The questions remain though, why is the Chief opposed to removing the bears, and how much do these establishments really contribute to our economy.  If the truth be known, the Cherokee economy has suffered greatly because of the imposed boycott to our tourist destination since these bear conditions were made public by PETA and other organizations that support their efforts. Perhaps with the assistance of wildlife advocates a place for these caged bears will be located.     

Submitted by:   Peggy Hill, an enrolled member of EBCI who is asking for the Tribal Council to approve the resolution that calls for the removal of the bears from their present concrete “prisons”.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will be meeting on March 7, 2013 to discuss the fate of the bears held in captivity.  The Elders will propose the following resolutions

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that all the owners of caged animals being held for public exhibit are hereby required to remove their animals from captivity at their own expense and their business license be revoked per EBCI Code Section 106.15 and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that tribal ordinances (CODE sec. 19) be enforced and amended, to reflect stronger regulations than those of USDA for the maintenance of all forms of life held for public exhibit and include reference to Sec. 106.15, and

NOW BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution is approved by Tribal Council in which a quorum is present and that it become effective after being ratified by the Principal Chief.



Jim Owle, Chairman Birdtown Community
Bill Taylor, Vice Chairman Wolftown Community
B Ensley, Yellowhill Community
Mike Parker, Wolftown Community
Gene "Tunney" Crowe, Jr, Birdtown Community
David Wolfe, Yellowhill Community
tommye Saunooke, Painttown community
Terri Henry, Paintttown Community
Perry Shell, Big Cove Community
Bo Taylor, Big Cove community
Diamond Brown, Cherokee County/Snowbird
AdamWashacha, Snowbird Cherokee County
Stop the Abuse of the Bears and move to a sanctuary.

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Coalition to Save the Cherokee Bears Continues Campaign

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      It is with a heavy heart that RiseNC closes this petition. The bears remain captive in horrendous conditions confined within the bear zoo/pits. The campaign to free the bears will be continued by the Coalition to Save the Cherokee Bears.
      RiseNC supports the cause and the Coalition to Save the Cherokee Bears 100%. However, this particular campaign is at a point where monies are desperately needed to continue plans as the Coalition to Save the Cherokee Bears deem necessary to free the bears.
      I, nor any person/volunteers with, can promote fund-raising for any cause at this time as is not an established non-profit organization. RiseNC is a group of volunteers who are trying to make changes for the better management of wildlife in NC. I fear at this time our campaign may be hindered if we attach ourselves with any group, individual, or organization collecting monies.
      Please continue to support this very important cause and go to
      for more information.

    2. Updates on the Cherokee Bear

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      Please go to for all updates for the Cherokee bears. Updates are posted as the effort to close the pits/zoos on the Cherokee Lands continues as directed the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Elders.

      Stop Abusing the Cherokee Bears

      Stop the Inhumane Treatment of Bears in Cherokee, NC To protest call Cherokee Principal Chief...

    3. Cherokee Bears zoos/pits will not be shut down

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      Hello to everyone,
      Currently the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Tribal Council will not be shutting down the bear pits/zoos and the Cherokee people will not be allowed to vote on the resolution.
      Cheryl and I are working on a plan of action for the Cherokee bear situation. Please hold off any individual action until the first of next week.
      The NC General Assembly and the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission (NCWRC) do not have any jurisdiction over the closing of the bear pits/zoos on the Eastern Band Of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) reservation. The EBCI is a sovereign nation and governs itself.
      On Wedensday I (Millie) will send emails and post all requested actions to everyone. Thank you so very much for your support.

    4. Meeting of Cherokee Committee March 19, 2013 from Cheryl

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      The bears have to wait until the April Tribal Council meeting before a decision determining their live. The elders did a great job last night presenting their resolution to close the zoos and relocate the bears to sanctuaries. The owner of the Cherokee Zoo claimed the pressure is coming from “outside” of Cherokee and not the decision of the Cherokee people. The Cherokee Bear Zoo owner is still proclaiming they are not in violation of any laws and all this is happening because of outside influences.
      Those is a false statements, she and the Chief are the only ones insisting on displaying wild animals on the Qualla Boundary. The Chief says he wants public input but has blocked all the emails to the council members.

      One way you can help is to go to tripadvisor Cherokee Zoo in Cherokee N. C. and let them know what you think of the abuse of bears.

      Go to

    5. The Bear Pits National Geographic

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer
      The Bear Pits | Nat Geo Wild

      Alison and Donald visit a zoo with a controversial reputation for the treatment of their bears.

    6. EBCI Working Session for March 19, 2013 to Make Decisions for the Zoos

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      The working session of the EBCI Council for making decisions about the zoos in Cherokee housing these bears is scheduled for: Tuesday, March 19th at 5:00 PM

      The Elders will present the Resolutions at the working session to be reviewed by EBCI Council
      Clarification of Resolution
      “NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that all the owners of caged animals being held for public exhibit are hereby required to remove their animals from captivity at their own expense and their business license be revoked per EBCI Code Section 106.15 and”

      The intent of this resolution is to relocate the captive wildlife to accredited sanctuaries or Zoos. Also, after the Code section 19 (attachment 1) is amended to reflect stronger regulations the current licenses would not meet the new requirements.

      Please go to for Excerpts from Principle Chief Michell Hick’s Letter

    7. EBCI Council Meeting on March 7, 2013

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      Cheryl's information in regards to the EBCI Council meeting on March 7th

      I just returned from Cherokee where they held this month's Tribal Council meeting and the elder's resolution was on the agenda. The elders did show the PETA undercover video to the council members. The owners of the Cherokee Zoo and Santa Land were also at this meeting and the elders offered them time to speak after the video. Unfortunately they took up more time than the elders did and things got a bit diluted.

      A working session will be scheduled March 19th. The owners and elders are expected to attend the working session; I believe it is opened to the public. I was very disappointed the resolution wasn't passed today. However, a couple of the council members indicated they thought it was time to do something about these bears.

      So the good news is there is still a chance for the bears in the Cherokee Zoo and Santa Land to be relocated.

    8. 2 Bears moved to a Sanctuary

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      Chief Saunooke Bear Park - This facility housed a total of approximately 14 American and Asiatic black bears, grizzly bears, and likely Syrian brown bears in pits.

      Two bears have been transported from the Chief Saunooke Bear Park and 10 more from this park are scheduled to be moved within the next 60 days.

      Cherokee Bear Zoo - This facility housed a total of about 10 American black bears and grizzly bears in pits.

      Santa’s Land - This facility housed two American black bear cubs.

    9. 6-year-old wins PETA Kids award, seeks justice for bears 6 WECT

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer
      6-year-old wins PETA Kids award, seeks justice for bears

      A 6-year-old girl from Leland is receiving a Compassionate Kid Award from PETA Kids due to her leadership in seeking justice for bears suffering at Chief Saunooke Bear Park in Cherokee - among others.

    10. Reached 5,000 signatures
    11. The EBCI Meeting On March 7

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      The bears from Chief Saunooke Bear Park, the one the USDA fined and removed their license to exhibit animals, are being relocated to an accredited sanctuary. Two are already arrived at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd Texas with the other ten expected to be there within the next 60 days.

      The Cherokee Tribal Council working session was postponed until the week of the March 18th due to bad weather. I thank you for all your efforts, emails and prayers. It is making a big difference. Lots of possibilities opening and yet we remain focused on removing the remaining bears as quickly as possible, into an accredited facilitation, and then the Cherokee can begin to create something new, something sacred and honoring to the bear.

    12. Emails to Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are Being Returned

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      Emails being send to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are being returned as undeliverable. Please send you emails to me at and they will be taken to the Council Meeting by one of the Speakers.

    13. Cherokee Council to Discuss Bear Zoos, Sanctuary Asheville Citizen Times

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer
      Cherokee council to discuss bear zoos, sanctuary

      CHEROKEE - The Tribal Council will revisit the contentious issue of bear zoos and a possible new bear sanctuary at a work session Wednesday. The three bear zoos on the tribal boundary, called "bear pits" by detractors who maintain the animals are poorly treated and housed on concrete floors, have garnered national attention in recent years, including a visit from game show host and animal rights activist Bob Barker.

    14. Reached 4,000 signatures
    15. Honoring the Cherokee Bear

      millie bowling
      Petition Organizer

      The EBCI should take care of their live bears like they honor their painted bears as shown in this beautiful video showing the painted bears and the Transformation Through Forgiveness statue!!

      This video shows why people visit Cherokee, for the culture and beauty! Please email the members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council asking them to shut down the road side zoos and relocate these abused bears to reputable bear sanctuaries. Let them know that you visit Cherokee for the beauty and culture but will not return until they address the abused bear issues!

      Their email addresses are:,,,,,,,,,,,
      Please share

      Cherokee Painted Bear Project in North Carolina

      Pictures from a drive through Cherokee, NC Fiberglass bears are painted by local Native American artists Music by Walela - Song "Cherokee"

    16. Reached 3,000 signatures
    17. Reached 2,500 signatures
    18. Reached 50 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Marni Montanez SAN JOSE, CA
      • over 1 year ago

      Bears should be roaming freely in a sanctuary

    • Lynne Cooper SANTA CRUZ, CA
      • over 1 year ago

      please be kind to all life, especially those who can't speak for themselves.

      • over 1 year ago

      stop animal cruelity!!!!! animals feel pain, fear and emotions like we do!!! dont be a human monster!!!

    • claudio peccolo TURIN, ITALY
      • over 1 year ago

      I can't stand watch these poor friends of mine locked up, it really piss me off,it's just doesn't has to happen, they're born to live free and no jerkle has the right to turn their lives in a hell on earth!

    • Phyllis Michailidis MONTREAL, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago



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