Big Cat Ban Needed in OH Group Meets to Discuss
COLUMBUS — A work group has begun meeting to draft rules on regulating dangerous wild animals in Ohio, an issue that resulted from the bear-mauling death of 24-year-old Elyrian, Brent Kandra, in August 2010.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will work with 10 stakeholder organizations to advise Ohio Gov. John Kasich on rules for species deemed to be dangerous wild animals.
Wild animal regulations gained statewide attention when Kandra was mauled and killed by a captive black bear at the Columbia Station farm of animal owner Sam Mazzola, who owns other exotic animals including bears, tigers, lions and wolves.
The outcry arising from that attack resulted in then Gov. Ted Strickland issuing an Executive Order and Emergency Administrative rule banning the “possession, sale and transfer” of dangerous wild animals.
After taking office, Kasich let that rule expire in April and said he would work with animal groups to draft new rules. The ODNR said Kasich supports the regulation of dangerous wild animals to ensure the public’s safety and animals’ humane treatment.
“Concerns were raised with the rule’s short-term and long-term funding, legal authority, safety and the overall feasibility of being able to efficiently and effectively enforce such a ban,” said a statement by ODNR.
The work group meetings will not be open to the public, but ODNR will publish meeting summaries at ohiodnr.com. ODNR Assistant Director Scott Zody will lead the meetings.
“We have set an aggressive agenda and hope to complete our work by late fall,” Zody said. “Our goal is to provide a framework for legislative consideration that would include identifying what constitutes a dangerous wild animal, common sense regulations that ensure public safety, and an enforceable process that does not over burden state resources.”
The work group includes:
* Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Columbus Zoo)
* Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
* Ohio Chapter of the Humane Society of the United States
* Knox County Prosecutor’s Office
* Ohio Association of Animal Owners
* Ohio Farm Bureau
* Ohio Department of Natural Resources
* Ohio Veterinary Medical Association
* U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
* Zoo Association of America
Outreach to the public is an important part of this process, said Zody, adding that the work group will develop a schedule that allows for public comment and public open houses.
The next work group meeting is scheduled for July 22.
By RICHARD PAYERCHIN