UPDATE: Deer Forest owner apologizes to community
The man who owns a controversial animal Park in Berrien County is now apologizing for the strain Deer Forest is putting on the people of Coloma.
John Modica visited Deer Forest yesterday to check on the park's condition. He bought the park 7 years ago, and says he put his brother in charge of it.
After that fell through, Modica hired Jon Stolarz and his wife, Amie Gadberry, in 2012.
Now he says he's putting an end to all the trouble.
"There's been all kinds of bad press, a lot of people have made enemies and hard feelings," said owner John Modica. "It was certainly all unintentional on my part. I wanted this place to work. That's why Jon and Amie were in here. They misled me. That's coming to an end as of this week."
Modica says Stolarz and his wife have stopped paying rent. Modica filed a lawsuit in Berrien County court.
He also says anyone who buys anything from Stolarz may be doing so illegally, since Modica claims he owns most of what is in Deer Forest.
Animal Control officers and others believed Stolarz may have skipped town.
But later, they found out that's not true -- he's apparently out of town at a funeral.
Stolarz told WSBT on the phone Wednesday the handful of animals left at Deer Forest are being taken care of while he's at that funeral.
He also says he is coming back.
Stolarz sold about 20 of the animals to an activist group last week. They are being held at an animal rescue a couple miles down the road from Deer Forest.
But the woman who runs Blessings Animal Farm says she never agreed to keep the donkeys, peacocks, horses and other animals from Deer Forest long-term.
She's figured out the cost and says it's going to be around a $1,000 a month to give them the proper care they need. Mostly so one of the horses can put on enough weight to survive the winter.
And until the woman who runs this rescue can find good "forever homes" for these animals, she says she needs help keeping them fed and cared for.
"We broke it down. There's no boarding charges or anything like that, just the basic feed and hay and grain and any supplements anybody would need. People can sponsor a certain animal if they want. We have the amount figured out per month or per week," Lizabeth TerMeer with Blessings Animal Farm said.
Meanwhile, some animals are still at Deer Forest.
When Coloma Township Police and Berrien County Animal Control went in Wednesday to check on the animals. A man who runs an alligator sanctuary picked up three alligators he'd donated to Deer Forest for the summer.
Animal Control also found and fed two bobcats at the park.
Again, the man who runs the park is out of town at a funeral and told us all of his possessions are here and he will be coming back.
So many people are worried about Stolarz's next move because of his past he has a history of moving and leaving animals behind.
There is a warrant out for his arrest in Illinois for an animal abuse case there.
He also owes tens of thousands of dollars in court fees and back child support in Missouri.