ODNR creates hotline to deal with wild animal tips, concerns

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COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has created a new, toll-free hotline, 855-DWA-OHIO, and companion website (dangerouswildanimals.ohio.gov) for Ohioans to report suspected instances of neglect or abuse of dangerous wild animals in Ohio.

Director Scott Zody said the ODNR will staff the hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and work with other authorities to take the appropriate follow-up actions when reports are made.

Gov. John R. Kasich issued an executive order Oct. 21 to better use existing laws and resources while specific legal authorities are being developed to protect public health and animal welfare.

Other actions under way that were initiated by the executive order include:

— Ohio state agencies are partnering with local health departments, Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and other law enforcement agencies across the state to identify known locations of captive dangerous wild animals;

— The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has reached out to statewide member organizations of the Ohio Federated Humane Society members and all designated county humane officers to support their efforts to exercise their power to enforce animal cruelty rules and offer training in biosecurity measures and animal health guidelines;

— ODNR is developing a database of locations where dangerous wild animals are known to be kept;

— The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has issued 3,550 letters to licensed auctioneers requesting that they voluntarily suspend sales of dangerous wild animals;

— Two facilities with dangerous wild animals on the premises have been inspected. One was a joint assessment that included ODA, ODNR, and the US Department of Agriculture and the second was conducted by the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

ODNR continues its review of native species permit holders across the state.

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