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Ohio Groups Propose Limits on Exotic Pets

A month after police killed 48 big cats and other animals near a private zoo in Zanesville, Ohio, a study group is proposing a ban on new ownership of wild animals, including venomous snakes, monkeys, and tigers.

The working group includes Ohio Association of Animal Owners, the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Zoological Association of America – all of whom are in the business of keeping captive animals.

The ban would start in 2014. Zoo, circuses, and research facilities would be exempt.

Previous owners would have to meet new temporary safety standards, and register their animals within 60 days of the law’s start date.

The panel’s recommendations are only suggestions to state lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich, who had resisted all efforts to regulate exotic animals in Ohio. The members’ ideas and the recommendations from the Ohio Department of National Resources and state Department of Agriculture would have to be drafted into legislation, heard before committees and passed by the legislature before becoming law.

Polly Britton, a lobbyist for the Ohio Association of Animal Owners, said she was disappointed facilities licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture wouldn’t be exempt from the regulations. These licensees include exhibitors, breeders and dealers, she said.

“I’d be surprised if [Governor Kasich] wants to shut down small businesses, but that’s what’s going to happen,” Britton said.

Ohio has some of the nation’s weakest restrictions on exotic pets. Efforts to strengthen the regulations took on new urgency after farm owner Terry Thompson opened his cages and let his animals out on Oct. 18.

There’s more at the Zanesville Times Recorder, USA Today and the Associated Press.