Hundreds of curiosity-seekers, horse-traders and others have attended an auction of the estate of a suicidal man who released dozens of exotic animals in eastern Ohio almost two years ago.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Four owners of exotic animals in Ohio are suing the state's agriculture department and its director over a new law regulating the dangerous wildlife.
The owners claim the law threatens their property rights and freedom of speech. They say it forces them to join private associations and possibly give up their animals without compensation. They also contend it unlawfully forces them to perform surgical procedures on the animals.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in Columbus federal court.
Under the law, owners face a Monday deadline to register their wildlife. If they don't, they could face a first-degree misdemeanor charge for a first offense, and a fifth-degree felony for any subsequent offenses.
Owners also are required to microchip their animals so they can be identified if they get lost or escape.
Attorneys for Ohio told a federal appeals court Wednesday that the state's exotic animal law gives owners a pathway to keep the creatures if they choose and doesn't violate their constitutional rights.
Owners of exotic animals in Ohio would be required to meet new caging, safety and caretaking standards under proposed rules slated for review Wednesday by a legislative panel.
The types of animals being held at Ohio's new holding facility for exotic creatures won't be released to the public, mainly to deter anyone from trying to gain access to them, state Agriculture Director David Daniels said Thursday.