Death investigation — Sanctuary will pay citations resulting from November keeper's death

After filing in early May, WildCat Haven Sanctuary has withdrawn an appeal of fines resulting from the death of keeper Renee Radziwon-Chapman in November.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division cited penalties totaling $5,600 upon completion of its investigation into Radziwon-Chapman’s death. The investigation found the sanctuary violated its two-person safety procedure by allowing workers to be alone. Such was the case when Radziwon-Chapman, 39, was mauled by at least one cougar.

Oregon OSHA also found the latch on the cougar cages was inadequate. In order to securely lock the cages, keepers had to enter the cage and attach a carabiner onto the lock fitting. There was also no separate entry door, resulting in two separate chambers needing to be secure before they could enter.

Among others, the investigator found that much of the owner’s attention had been focused on the sanctuary’s move to its new location, as a root cause of the issues. WildCat announced last year its plans to move from the eight acres on Parrett Mountain to a plot of 82 acres in Scotts Mills. Those plans, it seems, have been delayed.

WildCat said in a March statement that it has addressed all safety concerns highlighted by Oregon OSHA.

Melanie Mesaros, an Oregon OSHA spokeswoman, said WildCat Haven will pay off the fine in monthly payments for 10 months, as reported by the Oregonian. The payments begin in June.

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