Should Ohioans own lions, tigers, other exotics?

Sam MazzolaGov. John Kasich will not ban the ownership of exotic animals in Ohio; instead, his administration says the Department of Natural Resources will eventually regulate how they are kept.

Public comments are being gathered.

Former Gov. Ted Strickland issued a ban Jan. 7 that allowed current exotics owners to keep their animals and fulfilled part of an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States and agribusiness that kept the issue, and other animal regulations, from becoming a constitutional ballot issue last year. The ban expired Wednesday.

“Ohio is the Wild West when it comes to private ownership and auctions of dangerous wild animals for the exotic pet trade,” HSUS president Wayne Pacelle said in a news release. “It is our firm hope that Gov. Kasich will waste little time in adopting new rules to ban the trade in wild carnivores, primates and large snakes so that there are no more human or non-human victims.”

Ohio has the fourth highest number of incidents in the United States involving exotics escaping, injuring or killing people or other animals; in the last 10 years, at least 29 people were injured and one was killed, according to government and media reports compiled by HSUS.

And there are concerns about animal cruelty.

For instance, two lions and two tigers who spent years in small cages were taken from Ohio by a rescue group in Tampa in 2008. Their claws and most of their teeth had been pulled by the Ohio woman who made money by letting people pose with them for photographs.

At the time, there were an estimated 120 big cats living in Ohio and many more bears, like Sam Mazzola’s. He took them to bars and other venues where people wrestled with them.

Submit comments to wildinfo@dnr.state.oh.us or call 614-466-3555.

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/04/_animals_in_the_news_27.html

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