Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ohio: Proposed requirements for dangerous wild, exotic animals

Associated Press
Posted on Mon, Dec. 25, 2006

The bill introduced in the last session of the Ohio General Assembly by state Rep. George Distel, a Conneaut Democrat, will be reintroduced in the next session in January.

Among other things, Distel's bill would require people who possess dangerous wild animals or exotic animals to:

_Obtain a personal possession permit.

_Obtain and maintain liability insurance that covers claims for injury or damage to people or property caused by such animals.

_Post and display signs at intervals of 10 feet along the boundary of the property where the animals are confined, warning the public that a dangerous wild animal or exotic animal is on the property.

_Keep a log of all dangerous wild animals or exotic animals they possess.

_Not tether, leash or chain a dangerous wild animal or an exotic animal outside a cage or allow it to roam.

Source: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Northern Ireland: Captive exotic animal laws take effect

Now you need a licence for a lion

By Linda McKee
04 December 2006

New laws governing dangerous wild animals kept in captivity come into force today.

Owners of such animals will now have to apply for a licence and pay a licence fee of £80, quelling the underground trade that has being growing in Northern Ireland.

Environment Minister David Cairns has granted a 90-day amnesty period, allowing owners to apply for the licence - or hand in the animal to the DOE.

The USPCA has welcomed the long-awaited legislation, pointing out the absurdity of an unregulated system that allowed private individuals to keep anything from lions to diamond-backed rattlesnakes.

Spokesman David Wilson said: "We've been waiting for this for a considerable period of time and we welcome its arrival.

"In Northern Ireland, you had to pay a fiver for the privilege of keeping a poodle, but you could keep a panther for nothing."

Mr Wilson said the USPCA's concerns go beyond the risk to public safety.

"We are concerned about animal welfare. We feel a lot of people are not keeping the animals in the right conditions and that they don't have the right knowledge to care for them and the animals are suffering as a result," he said.

From now on, it will be an offence to have a dangerous wild animal without a licence - attracting a fine of up to £5,000. Selling such an animal to anyone without a licence will also be an offence.

• Recent years have seen an upsurge in the numbers of people keeping dangerous reptiles such as reptiles and crocodiles.

Earlier this year, a South American Tamarin monkey was seized from a house in Craigavon.

And in February this year, the USPCA and police intercepted a consignment of young Cayman crocodiles in Newry. The haul also included a boa constrictor and python snakes, tarantula spiders, lizards and water dragons.

A deadly cobra snake was discovered in a follow-up search of a house. Police had no powers to seize it because of the absence of dangerous wild animal legislation.

In another high-profile case in 2002, two wolves were caught running wild in Bangor.

The most infamous case was in 1997, when six tigers, a lion and a leopard were removed from a householder in Seskinore, Co Tyrone.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Indiana county may ban dangerous animals

Hybrid wolves reported in area

By Dick Kaukas
The Courier-Journal

Partly because of complaints about hybrid wolves roaming the Georgetown area, Floyd County Attorney Steve Lohmeyer is working on an ordinance to ban the possession of dangerous animals.

Lohmeyer said last week that the ordinance would make it illegal to possess a long list of animals, including lions, tigers, wolves and hybrid wolves, which are part wolf and part dog.

He added that the measure will be comprehensive, listing which animals may be kept by residents, which ones are outlawed and how they may be kenneled and caged.

It also will cover licensing and fees.

Lohmeyer said he had been asked by the county commissioners to work on the ordinance.

He said he has heard reports that several Floyd County residents own hybrid wolves and that others have big cats, such as lions and tigers.

The measure he's working on could be introduced for consideration at the commissioners' meeting Tuesday, although he added that it may not be ready by then.

Steve Bush, the commissioner who represents the Georgetown area, said he generally supports the idea behind the ordinance.

"Exotic animals can pose a safety issue," he said, "so I think it's important" to have an ordinance to regulate them.

He added, however, that he was not an expert on whether some species should be outlawed and hadn't formed an opinion about that part of the ordinance.

Consideration of the ordinance comes as at least one Georgetown resident, Sharon Allen of Alonzo Smith Road, has complained to police and animal-control officers about hybrid wolves being kept on a neighbor's property.

In an interview, Allen said that last week she found one of her family's four dogs, a beagle named Annie, dead in the backyard of her home, which sits on 40 acres.

The dog had been badly mangled.

Allen said she has frequently seen hybrid wolves running in the area and that she and other neighbors fear them.

She said she knew of no people being harmed but added, "I'm afraid that that's next."

Frank Loop, the Floyd County police chief, said his department investigated when Allen told them her dog had been killed.

But he said there was no way to determine what kind of animal caused its death.

Loop said he has seen coyotes in the area and it's possible that one of them killed the dog.

He also said that officers talked to one of Allen's neighbors, Steve Lark, who raises hybrid wolves, and that police had determined he was not in violation of any laws.

In an interview, Lark said his animals are "very good dogs" and that all were on his property and accounted for on the day the beagle was killed.

Lark said he has nine adult hybrid wolves and 14 puppies that he keeps in a reinforced kennel securely pegged to the ground.

He said he raises them to sell to people across the country.

All of his animals are about 98 percent wolf and 2 percent malamute, he said.

"That's what you want," he said, adding that with so much wolf in their genetic makeup the animals tend to steer clear of people and "keep out of trouble."

Lark said two of his wolves escaped in the spring when the kennel was damaged by a storm, but were quickly found and returned.

He said he had thought another hybrid had been stolen. But he added that he has since seen it running with a pack of coyotes.

Lark, who said he is a disabled veteran, added that he and his wife, Jackie, and their four daughters live on the property.

Asked what he would do if an ordinance outlawing dangerous animals is passed, he said he would be "grandfathered in" because when he moved to Floyd County there was no prohibition against possessing the animals.

Lohmeyer said he would argue that "each day is a new violation" under the ordinance. But it would be up to the courts, he said, to decide if that's the correct interpretation.

Reporter Dick Kaukas can be reached at (812) 949-4033.

http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article? AID=/20061203/NEWS02/612030414/1025/rss02

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ontario town considers exotic animal law


Tigers and elephants aren’t typical Muskoka wildlife but that doesn’t mean Huntsville isn’t home to its lion’s share of exotic animals.

According to a recommended exotic pets bylaw, which was presented to council in October, the issue of local residents adopting exotic creatures as pets is no laughing matter.

“There is the misconceptionthat this [housing exotic pets] isn’t a real or important issue in this area,” said Huntsville’s director of physical services Sara Brown, who noted that the report was prepared after the Town learned of one resident who is currently housing two exotic animals. “But the truth of the matter is that this does happen and it is important that we, the Town of Huntsville, address it.”

The proposed bylaw would make it illegal for residents to keep exotic creatures as pets. The Town, like the municipalities of Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, who already have similar bylaws in place, has proposed a working partnership with area professionals in order to apprehend and impound the creatures. Currently, the Town has no legal capacity to take action against residents housing exotic animals.

“Most municipalities don’t know that it [dealing with exotic pets] is their jurisdiction so when we [the Muskoka Wildlife Centre] moved up here we vowed to get municipalities involved and interested,” said Jody Gienow, director for the Muskoka Wildlife Centre.

Since the onus is on municipalities and not the province to create exotic pet bylaws, there are several areas in Ontario where the action is legal. This, noted Gienow, has motivated “exotic animal collectors” to move into these areas.

“It is a very serious problem. These people will actually move specifically so they can keep their collections of inappropriate animals,” said Gienow, who noted that collecting exotic pets has become an underground trend with a large number of followers. “They [animal hoarders] are very well connected. It is like any hobby group. People who collect antique cars like to show off their antique cars to other like-minded people. It’s the same for people who collect exotic creatures. They often have their friends over to show off their exotic pet collections.”

Gienow noted that she believes most people are attracted to “animal hoarding or collecting” for the status it grants amongst like-minded persons.

“There are lots of responsible pit bull owners, but there is that group of people that put the spiked collars on the dogs and train the dogs to attack other dogs. That seems to create a social group of those types of people. Much like that there is a type of person that likes to walk around town with a snake around their shoulders or invite their friends over to see their cougar in the basement. With the more dangerous animals, it is status. It is much like having an attack dog to show off.”

Over the years, Gienow has helped apprehend hundreds of exotic animals. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, the animals’ health has deteriorated as a result of poor and unnatural living conditions, noted the wildlife centre director.

“Animals in these situations, from our experience, are never housed appropriately. They are never fed appropriate diets because the expertise isn’t there in the private ownership circle,” said Gienow. As a result of improper captivity, noted Gienow, animals often suffer from obesity, malnutrition, allergies and shortened life spans.

According to the Town’s recommended bylaw, which has not been officially confirmed with the wildlife centre, the employees of the wildlife centre would be appointed as pound keepers and animal control officers, the same duties the centre performs for the municipalities of Bracebridge and Gravenhurst.

A similar exotic pets bylaw was brought to council several years ago but was left on the back burner.

“I think it fell off the radar. It didn’t seem prevalent at the time, but now the problem has a face,” said Brown. “I think this issue [the recognition of the housing of exotic creatures in Huntsville] has just pushed it ahead. It is something that we need to address and get a plan in place in order to deal with incidents like these. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t feel great having an elephant living next door to me.”

The reluctance of municipalities to take exotic pets bylaws seriously is frustrating, particularly when the animals suffer as a result, noted Gienow.

“It is very taxing when you are invested in the welfare of animals and you have to see this over and over again just because there isn’t proper legislation,” said Gienow.

Huntsville, noted Gienow, shouldn’t have needed a “face” to push forward an exotic pets bylaw. With “animal hoarders” moving to areas where it is legal to keep exotic creatures as pets, the implementation of a bylaw can prevent problems before they occur.

“These groups of exotic owners and hoarders are so organized that now [if the bylaw is passed] when they are looking for a place to take their exotic creatures after they get kicked out of their municipality, they won’t focus on Muskoka.”