Opinion: Indiana should impose stricter limits on exotic animal ownership

There are stray alligators, too
Article published Sep 20, 2006
South Bend Tribune

With the possible exception of the curator at the Potawatomi Zoo, we can’t think of anyone in Michiana who has any business owning an alligator. When people choose to do so, their “pets” may well become someone else’s problem.

That is the case in Elkhart County, where two residents turned their growing, increasingly aggressive alligators over to the Humane Society. Now the Humane Society must figure out what to do with them. There isn’t a waiting list of willing and qualified alligator adopters.

At least these owners did the responsible thing by taking the reptiles to the animal shelter. Not everyone does. Last summer, an alligator spotted in the St. Joseph River — apparently released there by someone who didn’t want it anymore — was shot by an Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officer. It was deemed a danger to be disposed of.

Many exotic animals are dangerous. Alligators are on a long list of exotics that may be owned in Indiana if the owner obtains a permit. Lions, tigers and bears, anyone? The state requires a permit for an alligator more than 5 feet long — an inadequate limitation, in our view.

But at least there is a limitation. No permit is required to own a reticulated python. One crushed its owner to death in southern Indiana earlier this month.We think the DNR and the General Assembly should revisit the subject of exotic animal ownership. In the interest of public safety, Indiana needs a law that makes more sense.



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