Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary Becomes Montana’s First ASA Accredited Sanctuary

Billings Area Highlights

Red Lodge, MT — 18 October 2019 — The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary has just become the first animal sanctuary in Montana to earn the prestigious American Sanctuary Association accreditation. 

“This is a huge step for our Sanctuary,” said Executive Director Gary Robson. “Fewer than 50 sanctuaries in the country are accredited by the ASA, and we’re proud to have earned a spot on that list. This accreditation shows that we’ve been thoroughly vetted by a highly-respected professional organization, which will help us with everything from animal placement to grant applications.”

The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary began exploring ASA accreditation in 2016 and spent much of 2019 working in earnest on the comprehensive application. The ASA reviewed policies, procedures, financials, staffing, permits, and licenses before scheduling the site visit, which took place last month. They also reviewed reports from APHIS (USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), which inspects the facility at least once per year. “In about 25 years of doing this, the application has to be the most professionally done that I have ever received,” said ASA Director Vernon Weir.

During the site visit, ASA Board Member Bobbi Brinks from the Lions Tigers & Bears sanctuary in California interviewed staff and looked at habitats, veterinary care plans, facilities, emergency plans, animal care procedures, and acquisition policies.

This accreditation will open the door to new grants and donations, as it shows that YWS has met the stringent requirements of the ASA. Grants are critical for the Sanctuary, as it receives no federal funding. Most of the $365,000 annual budget comes from grants, private donations, and admissions. The equivalent of over $50,000 in food for the animals (not included in the budget total) is donated by area grocery stores each year. 

About the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary
The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of providing lifelong sanctuary to non-releasable greater Yellowstone ecosystem wildlife while sharing a message of conservation and education. For over 30 years, the Sanctuary has been providing safe, comfortable homes and long, fulfilling lives to animals whose only other option was euthanasia. Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary also works with rehab centers and other sanctuaries around the country to facilitate releases or help to find homes for animals they can’t take in. Find out more at or drop by and visit to meet the Sanctuary’s wild residents.

About the American Sanctuary Association
Founded in 1998, the American Sanctuary Association (ASA) has two primary programs. First, it is an accrediting organization that requires member animal sanctuaries to comply with a variety of high-quality animal care standards and housing requirements. Besides a detailed application process, in which they review organizational qualifications such as financial stability, fundraising procedures, board oversight, permits and licenses, organizational bylaws, educational materials and veterinary references, we also visit all animal sanctuaries to assure that their facilities and animal care merit our endorsement. In addition, ASA member sanctuaries are not allowed to breed, sell or trade animals, or use them for commercial purposes. Second, ASA actively works every single day to find sanctuary placement for a multitude of homeless, abandoned, seized and abused exotic animals, non-releasable native wild animals, farmed animals and companion animals. Find out more at

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