COLUMBUS — Outgoing Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued an executive order Jan. 6 that bans the private ownership of dangerous wild animals.
The emergency executive order allows for the immediate adoption of a new Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife rule, which fulfills the governor’s responsibilities brokered in the agreement between Ohio’s agricultural leaders and the Humane Society of the United States last summer.
The new order covers such animals as big cats, bears, wolves, non-human primates, large constricting and venomous snakes, and crocodilians. The Ohio Revised Code lists some species as “wild animals,” but does not maintain a complete list.
The executive order authorizes the ODNR Division of Wildlife to adopt a new rule that prevents new private ownership of wild animals that are dangerous to human health and safety; requires existing private owners of dangerous wild animals to register the animals with the state; and details the type of facilities that can own and rehabilitate dangerous wild animals.
Under the rule, the ownership, breeding, selling, trading, and bartering of dangerous wild animals is prohibited to anyone who does not currently own one of the designated animals.
Similarly, existing owners of wild dangerous animals cannot breed, sell, trade, or barter these types of animals.
Existing owners would be allowed to continue with their ownership if they register their animals by May 1, 2011, and every year thereafter.
Accredited zoos, bona fide wildlife sanctuaries, and certain other facilities are exempt.
Also, subject to certain criteria, long-standing circuses and mascot programs, along with veterinary hospitals, research facilities, Department of Natural Resources-permitted native-wildlife rehabilitation facilities, law enforcement officers, and temporary transporters will also be allowed to continue to own these types of animals.
According to ODNR Director Sean Logan, who is also leaving office under the new Kasich administration, the rule will become effective immediately, but it is only effective for 90 days.
“We hope the incoming administration will see the value of this effort and take the necessary steps to implement a permanent rule that would ban the ownership of these species,” Logan added.
During those 90 day, ODNR will submit these rules to the state’s rule-making body, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, for inclusion in Ohio’s Administrative Code.