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Ohio House Passes Exotic Animal Legislation

COLUMBUS—Today, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 310, which outlines restrictions concerning ownership of “dangerous wild animals.”

Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) worked closely with Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) to facilitate this legislation’s passage through both the Ohio House and Senate. Senate Bill 310 defines “dangerous wild animals” to include big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates, among other animals.

This legislation prohibits a person from possessing a dangerous wild animal on or after January 1, 2014. Until that date, a person that possesses a dangerous animal must register that animal with the Director of Agriculture. After the effective date, owners of dangerous wild animals must obtain appropriate permits to maintain ownership.

“The passage of this legislation is the product of hours of committee testimony and individuals committed to not only getting the job done, but getting it done right,” said Rep. Hill. “Senator Balderson and I worked on this issue together with the common goal of creating legislation that would promote the safe ownership of wild animals. It was important for us to develop regulations that would act as a protection to both the public and the animals, and I believe that we achieved that with Senate Bill 310.”

Ohio currently has no regulations pertaining to the ownership of exotic animals. Senate Bill 310 was drafted in response to an incident that occurred last October in which a Muskingum County man released dozens of animals, including bears, lions, tigers and others from a private menagerie, before committing suicide.

“This issue is not black and white,” said Rep Hill. “Many traveled to the Statehouse from all over the state and country to educate us on exotic animals, and after hearing all of them, the bill before us today set standards in place for people to effectively care for these animals while at the same time protecting the public.”

Senate Bill 310 passed in the House by a vote of 87-9 and will now be sent to the Senate for concurrence.