Ohio task force recommends ban on dangerous, wild animal ownership
The working group, which was formed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to develop new rules to address dangerous exotic-animal ownership in Ohio, is now calling for the ban. The action follows the October killing of 49 exotic animals after their owner set them free before committing suicide.
The state's working group consisted of members from the American Zoological Association, the Zoological Association of America, the Ohio Association of Animal Owners, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the U.S. Sportmen's Alliance, the Humane Society of the United States, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture/APHIS and Wildlife Services and the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association.
The group met seven times since the Zanesville, Ohio incident before releasing its report on Nov. 24.
While the report calls for a ban on ownership of wild, exotic species, exceptions would be granted to zoos, research facilities, circuses, licensed sanctuaries or propagators who can demonstrate the animals will be cared for and contained in facilities that will ensure public heath and promote the health and welfare of the animals. The statute would also authorize the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to develop rules on facility standards and licensing, while granting the department enforcement authority.
The list of restricted species proposed by the working group includes bears, panthers and other large cats, wolves and other carnivorous mammals, venomous snakes, crocodiles, giraffes, elephants, non-human primates and more. Black bears and venomous snakes native to Ohio would also be considered restricted species.
Until the ban takes effect, the working group also proposes that temporary security and housing standards be established by ODA. Current owners who want to keep restricted species until the ban begins in 2014 would have to meet the new standards within six months of the new law's enactment.
After the law takes effect, the working group recommends an enforcement plan that allows the seizure of animals not exempted under statute.
Licensing and registration of restricted species to exempt institutions would be governed by a new chapter in the Ohio Revised Code and administered by ODA. The statute would create civil and criminal penalties for improper release and illegal possession of restricted species.
The working group's plan is merely a proposal, however, and will not be effective until it is drafted into legislation by state lawmakers and signed by the governor. A timeline for adoption has not been set.