Illinois Considers Putting Some Teeth Into Wildlife Possession Laws

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois officials are looking to add some teeth to the state’s exotic animal laws.

Spurred by an incident last year in which the owner of a wild animal farm in Ohio released lions, tigers, bears and other animals from their enclosures, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is pushing for a rewrite of the state’s dangerous animal laws.

Agency spokesman Chris McCloud said officials believe an update is needed because the statutes haven’t been beefed up since they were approved in 1969.

“This is something we had thought about for a while. We thought it would be a good time to do something,” McCloud said. “Clearly, the case in Ohio brought some publicity to it.”

Under legislation filed last week by state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, the state would update guidelines for permits, transportation and record-keeping for exotic animal owners.

The law affects people who own a a variety of wild game, including lions, tigers, cougars and leopards. It also covers the owners of bears, hyenas, elephants, gila monsters, kangaroos, wallabies, scorpions and certain dangerously venomous spiders.

McCloud said ownership of dangerous animals has changed since the law was first written more than 40 years ago. For example, the proposed update addresses a number of types of snakes, including boas and pythons.

The proposal has drawn the attention of reptile owners, who are concerned the proposal is too broad in its scope.

Andrew Wyatt, chief executive owner of the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, said the organization plans to fight the proposal, which would alter state laws for people who own boas, pythons and anacondas.

“Essentially, this would ban private ownership,” Wyatt said. “I’m not particularly happy about it. Reptiles had nothing to do with what happened in Zanesville, Ohio.”

In the Ohio case, police officers were forced to kill more than 50 animals that were running loose in Ohio after their owner let them loose and killed himself.

McCloud said the proposal is not a done deal.

“This is just the introduction. I think the staff is open to hearing comments from folks,” McCloud said.

The legislation is Senate Bill 3264.

kurt.erickson@lee.net|782-4043

Read more: State wants tougher rules on exotic animals http://www.herald-review.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/state-wants-tougher-rules-on-exotic-animals/article_3acf4d1a-514b-11e1-9c35-001871e3ce6c.html#ixzz1mrv6SOqS
From the Herald & Review

 

Letter to Senator Heather Steans re: SB 3264

State Senator Heather Steans
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
Phone:  773-769-1717
Fax:  773-769-6901
District Office Staff: Cathy Smith

RE:  SB 3264 in IL to put some teeth into your wildlife laws http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/97/SB/09700SB3264.htm

Thank you so much for championing this important restriction on the private possession of wild animals.  With 30 years experience in wild cats, I can assure you that these animals do not belong in cages, but if they must be, then AZA zoos and true sanctuaries that do not breed, buy, sell or allow public contact are the only places that should possess them.

The technical issue in your legislation is that you exempt sanctuaries accredited by TAOS, but TAOS rolled into a new name a few years ago and is now called The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.  It is the only sanctuary accreditation organization that currently is operating, accrediting and having regular board meetings.
Please contact Patty Finch there to discuss the reasons why your bill is very much needed and the name change for TAOS to GFAS.
Thanks and call on me if you need anyone to testify as to why this is so needed in IL.  I have a few other suggestions that would make the bill easier to enforce and that would weed out some of the irresponsible traveling acts that may use your circus exemption to avoid the insurance requirement.
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