Decision day for Ohio exotic-animal owners might come sooner rather than later.
Mandatory registration of exotic wild animals could kick in by the end of the year if legislation passed by the Ohio Senate is approved by the Ohio House and signed by Gov. John Kasich.
Even before that, a full ban on the acquisition, sale and breeding of restricted species would apply 90 days after Senate Bill 310 is signed.
So hypothetically, if Kasich were to sign the bill on July 1, it would take effect 90 days later, about Oct. 1. In the 60 days after that, by about Dec. 1, owners would have to register their animals with the state. There is no cost for registration.
By Oct. 1, 2013, owners would have to obtain a permit and pay a fee to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. As of Jan. 1, 2014, owners without permits could have their animals seized though local humane societies.
All of this is sending owners of exotic animals into a panic, said Polly Britton, of the Ohio Association of Animal Owners.
“They’re already panicking because they’re afraid a certain amount of their animals are going to be killed,” Britton said. “The whole bill is a problem.”
Sen. Troy Balderson’s office released a timeline yesterday of critical dates in Senate Bill 310. While the Jan. 1, 2014, date is widely known, other steps on the timeline were little discussed during five public hearings on the Zanesville Republican’s bill.
The Ohio Senate approved the measure 30-1 on Wednesday, sending it to the House. It faces renewed opposition there from owners, said Britton, whose organization represents more than 8,000 individuals.
“Our membership is vehemently opposed to it,” she said. “The ultimate objective, what the governor wants, in my opinion, is for these animals to be gone. He wants them out of Ohio, by hook or by crook.”
Kasich said on Wednesday that he approves of the bill passed by the Senate.
Snakes get a break under the bill. Owners can continue to keep, breed and acquire snakes, although animals on the restricted list must be registered with the state.
Britton said it’s difficult to predict what owners will do. “I’ve heard some people say they would move out of state, but that’s a big proposition.”
Owners also are peeved that the law would allow the agriculture director to add new animals to the restricted-species list two years after the Jan. 1, 2014, deadline.
The push for an exotic-animals law came after an Oct. 18 incident in which owner Terry W. Thompson freed dozens of lions, tigers, bears, monkeys and wolves on his Muskingum County property, then committed suicide. Deputies killed 48 of the animals to protect the public.
Ohio is one of only eight states with no law regulating exotic animals.