WV House Considers Wild Animals Act

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The West Virginia House Natural Resource Committee has approved a bill prohibiting ownership of dangerous wild animals after ensuring it allows for snake handling religions.

Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Chief Curtis Taylor assured committee members Wednesday that the bill would not limit the practice of religious snake handling. He says there are currently DNR regulations on the number of rattlesnakes and copperheads individuals can possess.

The bill would create a dangerous wild animal board to develop a list of dangerous animals, prohibit their possession, and issue permits for animals already owned. Owners with permits would need to provide proof of at least $300,000 in liability insurance.

The legislation exempts zoos, circuses and veterinary hospitals treating dangerous wild animals.

The bill has been passed to the House Judiciary Committee.