CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A proposed list of animals that would be banned in West Virginia without a permit under the proposed Dangerous Wild Animals Act will likely be “whittled down” before it is finalized, according to two state officials.

“That list may very well end up being shorter than what it is now, but you have to have a starting point,” said Del. Randy Swartzmiller (D-Hancock, 01) who has been working for years to develop regulations for ownership of exotic animals in the Mountain State.

“We’re in fertile ground here. We’re moving forward,” he said of what’s now being considered.

Chris Ferro, chief of staff for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, agreed. “I think the subcommittee and then the committee as a whole (that developed the list) went ahead and cast a wide net and kind of captured some of these other species that we may not think of readily,” Ferro said.

With the regulations, permits for harboring the animals covered in the Act would cost $100 and would be subject to the approval of the Dangerous Wild Animal Board which would review the permits each December.

Ferro said those who currently own animals on the banned list would be able to keep them, but would not be allowed to replace them without permission.

The list includes many types of amphibians, birds, reptiles, crayfish, snails, bivalves, ray-finned fishes, trigger, file and puffer fish and mammals.  A public comment period on what’s being proposed continues through Aug. 1 at 12 p.m. The complete list is available here.

Swartzmiller said the proposal is about safety — the safety of West Virginia’s residents along with the safety of the animals involved.

He lives near Zanesville, Oh. where, in 2011, 49 animals — including 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, two grizzly bears, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon — had to be shot and killed when a preserve owner released them before killing himself.

West Virginia is one of the few states without regulations addressing wild animals.

Both Swartzmiller and Ferro were guests on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

All comments on the proposal can sent via email to or regular mail to the following address :

West Virginia Department of Agriculture
Attn: Jodee Martin
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305

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  • squashpup

    I remember when a whale got loose in Sutton Lake once. Sank three houseboats before they finally harpooned it. Thank goodness whales and dolphins made the list. People have kept these dangerous animals as pets for TOO LONG.

    Thank goodness we are finally safe from the vicious Chinese Mystery Snail, too. How many more would have been seriously wounded or killed if this law hadn't passed!

  • tjb

    I don't see how my cory fish about 1 inch and my neon Tetris as small a finger could be such a dangerous thing ..i feel sorry for the small pet stores and small farmers that will go out of business ..

  • Roger

    Its all about money, folks!

  • john

    Where go my wife .She a wild animal and a pet sometimes.

  • john

    Well can I kept my pet monkey ,Mr. Muggy or do I have to send back to Africa.

  • Richard

    I am amazed they left honey bee's of the list.

  • Richard

    West Virginia's state government is totally out of control this is a unjust law and should never get to be law.

    • Stuart

      Someone...a group, wants a pay raise.

  • Richard

    This bill just goes to show how dumb our state government really is.

  • Debra

    With permission from author. Oh, I emailed my comment.... Hello!
    I just got to read the new list of proposed "banned wild animals" and although I understand the need to restrict the right to own certain animals as pets, I must say this list seems pretty ridiculous. Hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, tetra fish, etc? I mean come on! These animals are neither dangerous nor invasive when kept as domesticated pets. We are not talking about a wild rabbit population which could become a nuisance; we are talking about a domesticated rabbit which if it did get loose, would die within days because it has no idea how to survive in the wild! You want to know what an invasive species in WV is??? CATS!!!!! There are stray cats invading every city and town in WV and yet you propose no ban on, or permit required to own, these animals! Why is that??? And as for dangerous animals, I know of no guinea pig or tetra fish that could hold a candle to a doberman or pit bull, yet people are free to own those as well.
    I'm sorry to say I see this list more as a way for the state to extort money from its citizens by requiring a $100 fee for every harmless animal they want to bring into their family.
    If you really want to control invasive and dangerous animals, take a good long look at this list and get serious, please. Otherwise, expect the people of WV to know full well that you are just looking for more ways to steal our money, and be advised that we will remember this at the polls next election day.
    Thanks for your time, (and hopefully your revision of this list!)
    Julie Royce
    Grafton. WV

    • JMB

      +1, well said

  • Trish

    Seriously????? No pet frogs or turtles or bunnies or even hedgehogs? Wow, I must have been in more danger than I realized when I grew up!!! I apparently took my life in my hands with my pet turtle and don't know how I managed to survive! Geezums people! Loosen up! I can see things that are honestly dangerous, but apparently our lawmakers can't! Pitiful!

  • Roger

    The next thing you know, they'll outlaw ole Sasquatch Big Foot. I always wanted to capture one and make a pet out of it. I guess that possibility is now gone....

  • WmJr

    Can the kids still catch Lightning Bugs, and keep them in a jar?

    • Richard


  • JMB

    Typical government $$$ and freedom grab. Same as with guns, drugs, or anything else: Making it illegal won't stop criminals from having it! Why can government and some foolish citizens not understand this? Cobras, crocodiles, lions, OK but how are rabbits, hedgehogs, etc an issue? Give me a break. All about the dollars.

    • thornton

      "OK but how are rabbits, hedgehogs, etc an issue?"

      Well, one might include the grey squirrel as being of that manner of "harmless" critter.
      Then, ask the English what they think of the grey squirrel after it's introduction to Great Britain.

      Today, there is less thought given to any issue involving an imagined taxing possibility and government involvement than to the reality of an invasive species, often of many levels of perceived cute and cuddly.

      Actually, the short-thinking is easy to spot. It often begins with the silliest of extremes of any idea, or List, given as reasons to dismiss the idea as whole cloth.

  • Parrot Guy

    Another way for this state to try to make $$$ a Quaker Parakeet is a dangerous creature. Give me a break.

    • Richard

      And if let loose in the wilds of WV it would be dinner for something before it knew it also it would not survive the winter just a way to extort 100$

  • Voce Veritas

    "Dangerous". The name of the act itself is dripping with sophistry.