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A 2011 incident in Zanesville, OH in which a number of lions, tigers, and other species escaped prompted legislative action to tighten laws on dangerous species.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An advisory committee from several state agencies continues to collaborate on what will be included in an exotic animal ordinance approved by the legislature during the 2014 regular session.

Lawmakers were concerned about a lack of any laws regarding dangerous animals in the wake of an incident in Zanesville, Ohio. There a number of penned animals including lions, tigers, bears and other large cats escaped and roamed free throughout the countryside. Law enforcement was forced to shoot all of the animals in a high profile and dangerous hunting spree.

“The state of Ohio at the time also lacked any kind of effective program to cover exotics,” said Paul Johansen, Assistant Chief of Game Management for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “They have since put rules in place and we’re doing the same thing here in West Virginia.”

The advisory committee is considering what animals will be on the list. Johansen said the legislature was fairly clear in the wording of the law that any exotic animal considered a threat will be banned.

“The rule is specific to dangerous animals,” he said. “Not every species which would be on the list for ‘exotic’ would necessarily be on the list of prohibited species here in West Virginia.”

Some obvious entries will be the African cats along with some venomous snakes or constrictors.

“Those that would be considered dangerous to humans, injurious to the environment, or if the posed a threat to livestock in West Virginia they would be included on that list,” Johansen said. “An animal may fall on the list because of disease concerns.”

Johansen said the list should be finalized by next month and ready for public comment. Johansen expected a lot of feedback on the list once it’s submitted to the legislature. Lawmakers will work off the list to approve the rules.

Johansen added any of the prohibited exotic species already in existence in West Virginia would be grandfathered into the legislation, but as they die off they cannot be replaced.

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  • Kari Patton

    Someone mentioned the huge invasion of large pythons in Florida, well actually not long ago at all they had an open hunting season for tropical species of snakes in FL, on anything not native, and in the whole entire state of Florida 17 snakes where turned in during the hunting season for reward. I would hardly think that is a huge invasion. Nature does what it does best. Most of these creatures on the exotic animal list could NEVER survive here in the wild, mainly because of our weather here. And I hate to tell ya, but most people who have pets care about them and the last thing they want to do is turn them lose. To me anyway all of the animals rights groups need to get a life and quit trying to take the enjoyment out of having a pet as a companion. We aren't harming them, we are loving them and giving them good homes.

  • rick

    After reading the final house bill which was signed into law I dont see any domestic animals on the list in the law. The law is designed to prevent dangerous animals from affecting humans. Seems, as usual, somebody had added a lot of misinformation and others believe it.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Ideas for bumper stickers:

    "You can have my parakeet when you pry it from my cold dead hands!"

    "I own a banned exotic animal and I vote!"

    "Friends of Exotic Animals"

    "Obama Wants Your Exotic Animals"

    "I Believe in the Second Amendment: The Right of the People to Keep Exotic Animals Shall Not Be Enfringed"

    "Don't Tread on My Box Turtle"

    "When Exotic Animals Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Exotic Animals".

  • Rick55

    I'm confused.
    1) several of the readers state that they have seen the list. My understanding from reading the article is that the list has not been issued.
    2) my understanding from reading the article is that it deals with exotic animals, but that not every exotic animal will be prohibited, and prohibited only if they are exotic AND dangerous.
    Enlighten me.

  • A wolfdog owner

    If u take a look at the list, u Will notice that a lot of common pets are on it. And they are trying to push a part of the bill that states if u have one of these pets when the law goes into effect, u must pay $100 for the permit for each animal and provide proof that u have $100,000 liability insurance on each animal. It's all about the special interest and money here in wv. There won't be a pet store left in the state when this is all said and done.

  • WV_Farmer

    This is all hogwash. They lied to get the council in, it was only suppose to cover animals like lions, tigers, bears, and large primates. Then they sneak in banning all ownership pretty much. Their "only for dangerous animals" spout is bull. People had better wake up or they are going to come and kill every animal they have with the way this ban is stated unless they pay for permits and allow some possible animal rights nut to tell them they can't house their goats outside or their rabbit in a wire cage because its improper and then euthanize on the spot.

  • Sad

    The updated list BANS all horses, goats, sheep, lamas, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and many more. There is no sense in this. This is the animal rights extreme to end ownership, there should be no ban period and this board should not exist. They cannot enforce current animal abuse laws let alone adding more. To add to that, if they are going to ban some thing ban drinking, drunk drivers kill more people in WV every year than any exotic even causes an accident to. Or hiking and biking in WV, or even white water rafting as there is MUCH more damage done there and death and injury. People need to wake up or they are going to lose every thing.

    • Grant

      Someone has a 4 foot Cayman in Parkersburg just down the road from my mother. It got loose, and if it would have hurt my three year old son, that Cayman would be feasting on the owner. People don't need or have a right to endanger the community by owning these animals.

  • thornton

    “Those that would be considered injurious to the environment.........would be included on that list,” Johansen said.

    Interesting call....that would include the whitetail deer.
    A big thumbs up!

  • Shadow

    I wonder if the 500 pound Elk that DNR is trying to put on the roads will be on the list? I would hopefully think so. Also, the Buffalo, one never knows what DNR will do.

  • David

    How about "any animal, bird or reptile not native to West Virginiain the last 200 years."
    This way we can have moutain lion, wolf, elk and buffalo. We already have the DoDo Bird in Charleston.

  • northforkfisher

    If they're animal's, birds, and fish that are extremely reproductive, or destructive to native habitat they should be banned. Just look at how destructive the silver carp is to a river system and the boaters who enjoy it.
    The worst thing of all is if they would bring some disease that wipes out the native population. Look at the problems Florida is having with pythons released or escaped into the wild. Now they have 20 foot long snakes invading populated areas.

    • WV_Farmer

      The bans do not work, forces people to leave and destroys business and lives of those who keep the animals properly before. This is non-sense AR complete ban on animal ownership. When they come to kill your pets, don't say you weren't warned. They aren't saying that they've listed ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses, cattle, sheep, and many others. The list says ALL in the order of Carnivora at this point, no exceptions or explanations otherwise.

  • David

    “Those that would be considered dangerous to humans, injurious to the environment, or if the posed a threat to livestock in West Virginia they would be included on that list,” Johansen said. “An animal may fall on the list because of disease concerns.”

    Guess we'll be outlawing most of the animals God has blessed our good state with. Deer are a definite hazard to people and crops, raccoons may have rabies, and bears, well, no explanation needed here. This looks like busy work for a bunch of bureaucrats.