Ohio More oversight of wild animal ownership sought
Friday, May 26, 2006
Plain Dealer Reporter
A pair of national animal-protection organizations on Thursday urged Ohio to ban the private ownership of wild animals, calling the backyard operations “ticking time bombs” that put the public at risk.
The appeals from the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals came three days after a 500-pound black bear escaped from an Ashtabula County animal compound and mauled a 36-year-old woman inside her nearby home.
The attack has focused attention on the state’s lax laws on wild-animal breeding operations.
State Sen. Tim Grendell, a Geauga County Republican, said more oversight is needed. He said he’s preparing legislation to establish minimum confinement standards for dangerous wild animals such as bears, wolves and cougars.
The proposal – modeled after federal guidelines – would require caging and perimeter fencing, creating a “double layer of protection,” Grendell said. State wildlife officials said a perimeter fence could have prevented Monday’s incident in Hartsgrove Township.
“We need to ensure that dangerous animals don’t wander free,” said Grendell, who called the issue a priority. State law now requires wild-animal breeders to obtain a license and keep records of their animals, but does not require cages.
Grendell also said the business of breeding wild animals needs to be reviewed to gauge whether it’s appropriate for Ohio.
To animal protection groups, however, the answer to that question is simple: Leave wild animals in the wild.
Many other states already restrict private ownership of wild animals, said Dean Vickers, state program coordinator for the Humane Society. He said that in Ohio, dog owners face more regulations than people who traffic in wild animals.
“Legislators are tripping over themselves to write vicious dog laws,” Vicker said. “But a neighbor can have a tiger or a bear, and nothing’s being done. Common sense dictates that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. We don’t want to see anybody else hurt.”
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Carole’s letter to John:
You may wish to talk to those who were instrumental in changing the laws in the states listed on this page: http://bigcatrescue.org/lawsbigcatbans.htm
Florida boasts the toughest exotic animal regulations in the country, but when these state’s looked at Florida’s model what they found is that Florida also attracts more exotic breeders and dealers than any other state and that the cost of regulating the exotic animal industry far exceeds the money that can be raised through permit fees to regulate it. That means that for an industry that only represents .0002 of Florida’s population, the tax payers are having to fund hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to allow a practice that serves no purpose. Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently reported to the legislature that they charge 100.00 for a permit, but that it costs 125.00 to issue the permit and do one inspection. The only thing they can do to keep their jobs funded is to NOT do inspections, so it really doesn’t matter how wonderful the laws are, if there is no one to enforce them, they will not do anything to protect the public or the animals.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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