In what California Fish and Wildlife says was a rare decision, a local wildlife refuge had its rehabilitation permit revoked.
However, the founder of the Animal Rescue Team in Solvang, Julia Di Sieno, says losing her permit won’t stop her from saving animals.
Saving animals is more than just a hobby for Di Sieno.
“Wildlife is definitely one of the most difficult passions. It is without a doubt my lifelong, 58 years passion as well as saving wolf-hybrid dogs. At some times, we had over 47 various species in our care,” Di Sieno said.
After releasing most of the rescued animals back into the wild, most of the cages at the refuge located in her backyard are empty.
Earlier this month, a letter from California Fish and Wildlife said they may stay that way. The agency is revoking her rehabilitation permit, something they say has only happened three or four times in several decades.
“A revocation is pretty rare but there were multiple violations including not separating domestic animals from wildlife, there was not having visual separation from particular species which is required by law, there was numerous violations of record-keeping and there was possession of species which were not permitted for her to possess,” explained Jordan Traverso, Deputy Director of Communications for California Fish and Wildlife.
Di Sieno has 30 days to appeal the permit being revoked but she says her hands are full with other legal troubles.
“We’re probably going to at the last minute. I’m facing my fourth back surgery next week and possibly 60 days in jail now,” said Di Sieno.
Back in 2018, Di Sieno was in and out of court several times for 10 different counts that included allegedly stalking her neighbors and criminal threats against them. She was sentenced for violating court orders and unlawful firearm activity. This week, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says they’re investigating claims she violated her probation.
“If it happens it is what it is – we’ll make the best of what we do as a non-profit,” Di Sieno said.
Di Sieno says if she is unable to host wild animals, she plans on using her resources to still help domestic animals and livestock. She argues losing her permit would be a major loss for the wildlife community.
We reached out to neighbors of Di Sieno who aren’t happy about the animal sanctuary. They declined to comment over fear of retaliation.