Call of the Wildman, featuring Ernie Brown, Jr., whose nickname is “The Turtleman,” and Animal Planet have finally been fined three years after the show was taken off the air for multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Mother Jones has been actively following the Call of the Wildman controversy since January of 2014, and reported two days ago that “federal investigators have formally cited Animal Planet producers” for neglect and abuse of animals on the show — both “on and off set.”
“The Turtleman” Ernie Brown, Jr. was discovered by Animal Planet in 2010 after he was featured on a Kentucky educational series called Kentucky Afield. Ernie Brown, Jr.’s popular reality TV series, Call of the Wildman, ran on Animal Planet from October of 2011 through September of 2014 before it was canceled for allegations of animal abuse and neglect.
According to Animal Planet, Call of the Wildman quickly became its most popular show in 2011 with nearly 800,000 viewers tuning in every Sunday night to watch “The Turtleman” Ernie Brown, Jr. catch nuisance wild animals by hand. Call of the Wildman episodes started in Kentucky, where Ernie Brown, Jr. is from, but branched out to other states during Season 2 in 2012. With Neal James and Lolly dog as sidekicks, “The Turtleman” ran a nuisance animal removal business out of his home in Lebanon, Kentucky. Neal James acted as secretary for the business, taking calls and scheduling appointments for Ernie Brown, Jr. to catch and release all types of nuisance animals in the backwoods of Kentucky, including snakes, skunks, raccoons, and possums.
Venomous or non-venomous, “The Turtleman” would show up and catch the nuisance animals with his hands and then relocate them to safer locations. Looper said that Ernie “The Turtleman” Brown’s “unique style of catching dangerous prey” with his bare hands, along with his “signature” yell, is what quickly grew a fan base for Call of the Wildman. Looper also shared that Turtleman was licensed as a nuisance wildlife control operator in Kentucky, but lost his NWCO license in 2014 for wrangling a “nuisance” deer out of a store in one episode of Call of the Wildman, inconsistencies in his NWCO paperwork, and an investigation in January of 2014 by Mother Jones, which “went behind the scenes” at Animal Planet’s “top reality” TV show Call of the Wildman.
The Mother Jones report in January of 2014 reportedly uncovered animal abuse and neglect by the makers of Call of the Wildman, Sharp Entertainment, scripted scenes where animals were staged for capturing, and alleged drugging of animals to sedate them for rescue. Following the initial report by Mother Jones, Kentucky state agencies, along with several other federal agencies, investigated Call of the Wildman further, and a new report by Mother Jones on Wednesday said that “once-popular” Call of the Wildman reality TV show and Animal Planet producers have been “slapped” with a fine for “mistreating animals” in the amount of $1400. The fine comes three years after Call of the Wildman was taken off the air, and some animal rights advocates are saying that the penalty is too low.
Animal Planet and Sharp Entertainment have reportedly not responded to questions from Mother Jones about their fine for violating the Animal Welfare Act during the filming of Call of the Wildman, but the Animal Legal Defense Fund says that it’s “good to see USDA enforcing the AWA against reality TV producers.” Comments say to “stop watching” these reality TV shows involving animals, and “they will stop torturing animals for entertainment.” Fans of Ernie “Turtleman” Brown, 52, can still watch backwoods living with “The Turtleman” via the Turtleman official YouTube channel, where Ernie Brown, Jr. regularly shares short videos of himself still catching nuisance animals with Neal James and Lolly dog. Call of the Wildman also has a Facebook page where fans can follow Turtleman.
[Featured Image by Dylan Lovan/AP Images]