Proposed ban in Texas county targets 60 wild animal species

Web Posted: 10/23/2006 10:24 PM CDT

Zeke MacCormack
Express-News Staff

BOERNE — A long-awaited proposal to tighten Kendall County’s control over which wild animals it allows and how they are kept is the subject of a Nov. 27 public hearing.

New rules unveiled Monday would bar about 60 species from the county and create requirements for training handlers, constructing pens and having contingency plans for escapes and disasters.

Wolves, monkeys, hippos and badgers are among the species banned in the proposal, which came in response to a 2004 petition led by Kendalia residents concerned about the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation center there.

The petitioners sought a ban on exotic or indigenous “dangerous wild animals,” plus those used or intended for biomedical research and, because of disease concerns, Macaque monkeys.

The center is exempted from the current county rules, adopted in 2002, and may be excluded from some provisions of the new code, County Attorney Don Allee said. But, he said, it has agreed not to bring in new lions to replace lions now there.

The center annually treats about 7,000 animals, many of which are injured and rescued from other counties, and it is permanent home to 400 others.

“My understanding it that the new regulations will simply encompass everything that Wildlife Rescue has already been doing for a number of years,” said Lynn Cuny, refuge founder.

Commissioners set a hearing for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 27 on the rules, which are expected soon on the county’s Web site, www.co.kendall.tx.us.

The revisions follow the settlement of a lawsuit between the refuge and Gene Kaufman, who complained to authorities in 2004 of sleep lost to roaring lions.

At the time, he expressed fear of attack and disease from animals kept at the refuge next door, which opened in 2002 on 187 acres he once owned.

Inspections in 2004 led Allee to conclude the facility is not a public health threat.

Complaining of defamation, trespass and nuisance, the refuge sued Kaufman in October 2004.

Kaufman countersued, accusing the refuge and its attorney of defamation, nuisance and wrongful acts that he said caused him emotional distress.

Kaufman declined comment Monday, but two of his attorneys said the parties had dropped all their claims in recent weeks.

Cuny said no money changed hands, to her knowledge, in the settlement, which has yet to be entered in court records. Attorneys for the refuge could not be reached for comment.

Monday, addressing the issue of where “varmints” treated at the refuge wind up, Commissioner Darrel Lux said the new rules would allow the county to bar release of rehabilitated raccoons, possums and the similar wildlife brought to the county from elsewhere.

The new rules are not an effort to shut the refuge, Lux said, but would require such facilities to allow the county access to their inventories of animals.

County Judge Eddie J. Vogt said part of the delay in preparing them resulted from extensive consultations with the refuge and Kaufmann.

zeke@express-news.net

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