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.
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
District Office Staff: Cathy Smith
RE: SB 3264 in IL to put some teeth into your wildlife laws http://www.ilga.gov/