CHARLESTON, W.Va – A list of animals to be banned in West Virginia is causing an uproar among animal lovers and pet store owners.
The public has been able to comment on the list and the Dangerous Wild Animal Board is taking what they have had to say into consideration. A new list is now being created, and those with the Board said they’re hoping it will erase public confusion.
“After receiving public comments, we need to take action,” said Jewell Plumley, state veterinarian and chairperson for the Dangerous Wild Animal Board.
The Board met Thursday to discuss the messages that they’ve been receiving from West Virginia citizens. Board members said it appeared many people thought the list they previously released was unclear so they decided to introduce a more “user-friendly” list of banned animals.
The list the Board released previously contained complete animal classifications, including family, genus, and species. They said they believed that led to public confusion. The new list, built from the dangerous animal list for the state of Ohio, will likely contain only the name of the specific animal, pending subcommittee meetings.
“The reason I really like this list is because it says ‘tiger’, it doesn’t give the class or the order,” Plumley said.
The board is willing to reconsider several other things the public brought to their attention. They received hundreds of general complaints about the banned animals list they previously released. Many pet owners were worried the fees they would have to pay to keep certain animals could put them out of business. The fee for a permit for a banned animal, as proposed, would have cost $100 and be subject to an annual review.
“A lot of the general comments were they didn’t like the rule at all. Then some of the comments were focused primarily on what was being sold at pet shops or aquarium fish. We will look at the fee structure also, but the fee structure actually is fairly conservative for what’s on this Ohio list,” said Plumley.
A technical subcommittee will work with the Ohio list to decide what animals will be added and removed from that list to fit West Virginia’s needs. The public is still able to comment until August 1st.
All of this began after an incident in Zanesville, Oh. in 2011. Exotic animal preserve owner, Terry Thompson, released over 40 animals, including lions, tigers, wolves, and bears, before ending his life. Fearing the aggressive animals were a threat to the public, officers were forced to kill them.