Exotic Animal Recommendations Delivered To Governor

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The Ohio Department of Natural Resources delivered its final recommendation report on exotic animal regulations to the Governor's office today, but the report does not make a recommendation on what should happen to animals taken by the state from casual owners that cannot be placed at a zoo or other animal facility.

ODNR Director James Zehringer and Ohio Department of Agriculture Interim Director Tony Forshey held a conference call with reporters today.

Zehringer says if the recommendations are put into law by the legislature, it places tough restrictions on exotic animal ownership in the Buckeye State.

"This report recommends banning all casual ownership of these animal species and does not include a grandfather clause.  The only entities that should possess these restricted species are zoos, sanctuaries, research facilities and circuses," says Zehringer.

The proposal asks the ban go into effect January 1, 2014.

Officials say they want to give casual exotic animal owners time to find a new home for the animals.

Once the legislation is passed, the owners would have to follow strict guidelines for keeping the animals, until they can find a place for them to go.

Forshey says the state will also help the owners try to find a home for the animals before the 2014 deadline.

"It's our intent to go through all the resources including zoos and sanctuaries, throughout the country actually, to work to assist people to get these animals placed," says Forshey.

But Forshey says the report does not make a recommendation as to what should be done with animals that can't be placed.

He says that will be for the legislature to decide.

Forshey also says that they have no idea how many exotic animal owners there are in the state, but he believes his team of 24 field inspectors will be able to enforce the regulations.