Asiatic black bear featured on billboard plea

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals  (PETA) recently posted a billboard which invoked the name of 'Dillan' and pleaded to Gov. Tom Wolf to pursue charges against his alleged abusers.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) confirmed Wednesday that an investigation into alleged animal abuse at the Union County Sportsmen’s Club was “active and open.”

Ryan Tarkowski, PSP communications director, said the investigation was looking at treatment of animals still at the club as well as that of a bear who has since been transferred. He said an office dedicated to animal abuse cases was handling the investigation, but noted no further information could be supplied because the investigation was active.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently renewed attention to the plight of Dillan, an Asiatic black bear who was transferred from the Union County Sportsmen’s club early in January. Dillan was described as obese and in ill health before being taken to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg, Colo. at PETA’s expense. He has reportedly lost weight, shown healthier behavior and been helped by numerous dental procedures.

Meantime, PETA recently posted a billboard near Liverpool on Routes 11 and 15 encouraging further action. The billboard does not refer directly to the club, but uses Dillan’s name and likeness as it provides a web address for more information. It also appeals to Gov. Tom Wolf for further action.

A similar billboard was also posted in Harrisburg and actor Alec Baldwin has twice written the governor with a similar plea.

Rebecca Smudzinski, PETA senior captive wildlife specialist, said the outdoor ad “upped the ante” as they seek accountability for alleged treatment of the bear and animals remaining at the club.

“The club had known that (Dillan) was suffering but they had refused to take any action,” Smudzinski said. “Gov. Wolf must make sure Dillan’s abusers are charged.”

Smudzinski said PETA sought punishment of parties allegedly responsible. A permanent ban on animal ownership was one desired outcome and fines could be assessed. The club had previously been cited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for lack of veterinary care.

Meantime, Orville “Bear” Spangler, club president, said the matter was in the hands of Sara Hudock, the club’s attorney.

Spangler hoped PETA would cease their ongoing action and noted most people in western Union County know him by the nickname given to him as a young child.

Staff writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at

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