A proposed ban on exotic animal ownership in Ohio is already running into legislative opposition from congressmen concerned animals could be illegally seized through the law, the Columbus Dispatch
Republican State Sen. Troy Balderson is expected to sponsor the proposed legislation, which would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014. Balderson’s home is about seven miles from a farm where in October law-enforcement officers killed 48 animals, including bears, lions, tigers, and wolves, that had been set free by their owner. Terry W. Thompson committed suicide after releasing the animals.
“I don’t want to ban exotic animals,” insisted Balderson. “Ohio has the most lenient laws in the country, and we need to do something about that. We need to protect people. We need to protect small business owners, and we need to protect the animals.”
However, Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus expressed concerns about a recommendation empowering authorities to seize animals on the restricted species list if owners don’t voluntarily give them.
“I want to make sure we’re not doing some things that are too much of a reach,” Niehaus said. “If they’re being well taken care of or housed properly and not posing a danger to others, we have to ask questions about whether it’s appropriate to remove those animals.”
Animals on the banned list include panthers, hyenas, lions, tigers, primates, elephants, rhinoceroses, giraffes, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, pythons, boa constrictors, and wolf-dog hybrids.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer said the proposed rules would have prohibited Thompson from owning the animals.
Under the proposal, owners do not have to get rid of animals on the list before 2014, but they have to register them within 60 days of the effective date of the law. If the animals aren’t turned over by the deadline in two years, they would be “subject to immediate confiscation and forfeiture,” under the proposal.
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