CLEVELAND - If you own a wild animal like a gorilla, bear or a tiger in Ohio you now have to register those animals with the state. The changes come after what happened last year in Zanesville when dozens of exotic animals were killed after their owner released them and took his own life.
The new exotic animal law says you can not buy or sell dangerous wild animals as of Wednesday. If you are a current owner of one you must register your animal with the state by November 5. You will have to pass a background check, have insurance for them and show an inspector you can properly take care of these animals.
Here are full details of the new regulations from the Ohio Department of Agriculture:
RULES FOR OWNERS
Ohio residents will be banned from buying and selling dangerous wild animals when the law takes effect on Wednesday. People are also generally prohibited from trading or transferring ownership, though that provision doesn't apply in certain cases in which the owner dies. People will be banned from removing microchips implanted in the restricted animals. They also can't remove the animals' teeth or claws or knowingly release them back into the wild.
Current owners can keep their creatures but must obtain a new state-issued wildlife shelter permit by Jan. 1, 2014. They must pass background checks, pay fees, obtain liability insurance or surety bonds and show inspectors that they can properly contain the animal and care for it. Owners must also have microchips inserted into their dangerous animals so they can be identified if they get lost or escape. The animals have to be registered with the state by Nov. 5. Owners have to post signs on their property to alert people there are dangerous animals on the premises.
If owners are denied permits or can't meet the new requirements, the state can seize the animals.
The law defines "dangerous wild animals" as hyenas, elephants, lions, tigers, jaguars, gray wolves, leopards, bears, cheetahs, alligators, crocodiles, Komodo dragons, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and large primates such as gorillas and baboons, along with others.
The new rules won't apply to certain owners and animals. For instance, owners of smaller monkeys, such as certain marmosets or capuchins, will only have to register the primates but won't need state-issued permits. Facilities accredited by some national zoo groups also will be exempt from the law, as are sanctuaries, circuses and research institutions.
Owners of venomous and constricting snakes will face new rules. The law creates a category of restricted snakes that includes anacondas, pythons, constricting snakes that are 12 feet or longer and other specified venomous snakes.
PERMITS AND FEES
Permits for bears, tigers and other dangerous animals will begin at $250 and could be more than $1,000, depending on the number of animals. Owners could start applying for permits with the agriculture department by Oct. 1, 2013. Insurance policies for the creatures could range from $200,000 to as high as $1 million, depending on the number of animals.
Estimated costs for the first year of the program are $600,000 to $720,000. The Legislature set aside $500,000 to help with the startup costs. Gov. John Kasich's administration hopes to help pay for it with permit fees from owners. Ohio officials also want to spend $3.5 million build a state facility that would temporarily house potentially dozens of exotic animals confiscated under the law. The state Controlling Board, which handles certain adjustments to the state budget, would have to approve the request for the money.
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