By BRIAN PAYNTER/Staff Reporter
MAYVILLE - Reports of an alligator roaming the streets of a suburban Milwaukee community a few months ago prompted Mayor Ron Sternat and the common council on Monday to introduce an ordinance prohibiting residents from keeping wild and exotic animals.
"People sometimes do bizarre things," Sternat said. "Some homeowner must've gotten a little alligator, fed it and it just got too big for them to handle or they no longer wanted to deal with it. So they let if crawl out."
But, he said, a loose alligator could jeopardize the safety of people living in the community.
"If somebody spots this thing they're going to go ballistic," Sternat said. "I would too if I happened to be sitting down at the park pavilion and an alligator came down the middle of Rock River."
He said the loose alligator incident made him realize that the city of Mayville doesn't have anything on the books that recognizes the potential problems of owning wild and exotic animals.
"What happens if the cable guy had the door open while he was working on your TV and your poisonous boa constrictor or python snake got outside?" Sternat said. "This snake is now slithering over to the lawn and devours the neighbor's dog. It sounds ridiculous, but a wild animal is still a wild animal. You can't take a bear and make it a pet and that's what a lot of this deals with."
He said homeowners who already own wild or exotic animals need to have them registered so the city knows they're there.
"We need to protect the people of Mayville," Sternat said.
The public safety committee will discuss the wild and exotic animal ordinance at 6:30 p.m. on Monday in the council chambers at city hall.
Under the ordinance:
-No person can keep, maintain or possess any poisonous reptile, dangerous or wild animal or insect. This includes, but isn't limited to, poisonous insects and arachnids, all venomous snakes, constrictor snakes, any snakes exceeding four feet in length and monitor lizards.
-Other dangerous or wild animals listed in the ordinance are non-human primates, bears, crocodiles, alligators, coyotes, elephants, gamecocks and other fighting birds, bats, hippopotami, hyenas, jaguars, leopards, lions, lynx, pumas, cougars, mountain lions, panthers, ocelots, tigers or other wild feline species, wolves, prairie dogs and wild and domestic animal hybrids such as a coyote/dog.
-The prohibitions won't apply to city residents who have one or more of the aforementioned species before the ordinance takes effect and who register their wild or exotic animal with the city clerk's office within 60 days of the effective date.
Any resident who wants to claim exemption under the wild and exotic animal ordinance must furnish satisfactory evidence such as a bill of sale, veterinary records or other proof satisfactory to the city clerk which demonstrates ownership of the otherwise prohibited species before the ordinance takes effect. All such animals must be photographed and implanted with a microchip for identification.
Other exceptions to the ordinance will be licensed veterinary clinics, licensed animal rehabilitation homes, zoological gardens, public or private educational institutions, agricultural fairs, shows or projects of 4-H clubs, a display for judging purposes, circuses and professional animal acts or other shows requiring an entertainment activity license under section 12.04 of the municipal code.
Provisions of an entertainment activity license are that:
-Their location conforms to the zoning requirements of Chapter 13 of the municipal code.
-All animals and animal quarters are kept in a clean and sanitary condition and so maintained as to eliminate objectionable odors.
-Animals are maintained in quarters constructed to prevent their escape.
Anyone violating the wild and exotic animal ordinance would be fined not less than $1 and not more than $200, together with the costs of prosecution. If they default in the payment of the fine, they will be imprisoned in the county jail until the costs are paid, but not more than 90 days.
Upon a second offense, the forfeiture would be not less than $10 nor more than $200 for each offense, together with the costs of prosecution. In default of payment, the person shall be imprisoned in the county jail until the forfeiture is paid. The prison stay will not exceed six months.
Each day a violation continues or occurs constitutes a separate offense.