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Letter to the Editor Regarding a Nevada Ban on Big Cat Possession
In response to Friday’s commentary, “Exotic animal bill amounts to a taking of owners’ property”:
State Sen. Michael Roberson’s dangerous wild animal bill, SB 245, remedies a problem that has been spiraling out of control for decades. Nevada is one of only six states that have not yet addressed the serious issue of unqualified and irresponsible people possessing animals such as big cats, bears and primates. A statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research confirms that large majorities in all demographic groups, party affiliations and geographic regions of the state support the legislation.
The private possession of dangerous wild animals poses public health and safety risks and has a profound impact on animal welfare. The bill ensures that only knowledgeable and experienced facilities, such as accredited zoos and sanctuaries, are allowed to possess animals who have complex needs and require special handling and properly designed enclosures.
Owners of dangerous wild animals create a burden for sanctuaries, taxpayers, communities and emergency responders. No one wants to put our brave members of law enforcement in the position of having to shoot and kill another escaped chimpanzee or other dangerous wild animal, which would be the likely outcome regardless of an area’s population.
People who claim they have a constitutional right to own a dangerous wild animal are not the only ones impacted by their selfish and reckless decisions. They’re putting every member of the community at risk, for no good reason. No Nevada resident should have to worry about a neighbor’s tiger, bear or pet monkey escaping and possibly attacking children and pets.
Last summer’s tragic Las Vegas chimpanzee escape was not the first incident of its kind, and it won’t be the last if legislators don’t effectively address this problem in a meaningful fashion now.