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Oregon House bill would ban private ownership of lions, tigers

Animal Protection Organizations Urge Oregon House Committee to Pass Legislation Prohibiting Private Ownership of Wild Animals

April 17, 2007

PORTLAND, Ore. — Recent incidents involving the escape of exotic pets demonstrate the need to prohibit private possession of wild animals in Oregon, say The Humane Society of the United States, the Oregon Humane Society and the Animal Protection Institute. Earlier this month a pet alligator escaped from a Coos Bay home and a pet monkey escaped through a hole in his cage in Lincoln County. Both animals were recaptured.

The HSUS, OHS and API are supporting House Bill 3437, introduced by Representatives Arnie Roblan (D, 9) and Brian Boquist (R, 23) to prohibit private possession of wild animals in the state, including alligators, monkeys, wolves, lions, tigers and bears. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will consider the bill at a hearing on April 19.

“This legislation will protect both public safety and animal welfare,” said Kelly Peterson, The HSUS state program coordinator for Oregon. “Wild animals can attack, they can spread disease, and the average citizen cannot meet their needs in captivity. They belong in the wild. Fortunately, state lawmakers are poised to address this issue, and we urge the committee to pass House Bill 3437.”

“When members of the general public can keep wild animals as pets it’s a horrible life for animals and an accident waiting to happen,” said Nicole Paquette, Esq., director of legal and government affairs for API. “Many animals become too difficult for their owners to care for and end up languishing in small pens in backyards, doomed to live in deplorable conditions, or they’re abandoned.”

“Our position has always been that the general public is ill suited to care for exotic animals with unusual and specific husbandry requirements,” added Sharon M. Harmon, executive director of the OHS. “Exotics most often die early deaths from poor husbandry in spite of the intentions of their owners. There are tens of thousands of our closest companions euthanized for lack of homes in Oregon. If we can’t provide adequate care for domestic dogs and cats, we have no business taking animals from the wild or producing exotic animals for the pet trade.”

Currently in Oregon a permit is required to possess certain wild animals as pets. H.B. 3437 will prohibit future possession of these animals and add alligators, crocodiles and caimans to the list. People who currently have these animals will be able to keep them, but not breed or replace them.

In addition to Roblan and Boquist, the bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Vicki Berger (R, 20), Scott Bruun (R, 37), Brian Clem (D, 21), Larry Galizio (D, 35), Bill Garrard (R, 56), Greg Macpherson (D, 38), Tobias Read (D, 27) and Mike Schaufler (D, 48).

Previous incidents in Oregon include:

The body of a dead three-foot alligator was found in a creek in Douglas County in March 2007.

A serval (an African wild cat) escaped from a home near Aurora in November 2006. The animal was recaptured only to escape again on the way home.

A pet lynx escaped and jumped on a six-year-old girl’s head in Clackamas County in August 2005.

A caiman was returned after three days on the loose in Lane County in June 2005.

A three-year-old girl in Bend was hospitalized after being bitten by a 40-pound exotic cat in her neighbor’s yard in September 2002.

Susan Bluttman, (240) 672-1854

http://www.hsus.org/press_and_publications/ press_releases/oregon_house_committee_.html

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