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June 20, 2012

The HSUS Commends the California Fish and Game Commission for Strengthening Dangerous Wild Animal Regulations

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the California Fish and Game Commission for voting 3 to 0 today to strengthen state regulations governing the inspection of facilities housing dangerous wild animals.

State law requires that the Department of Fish and Game inspect exotic animal facilities, such as roadside zoos and private menageries, to ensure that facility, caging and humane-care standards are being met. However, the Department of Fish and Game has typically relied on the facilities’ own veterinarians to conduct the inspections, leading to a system of self-inspection, which is in direct violation of state law. Regulations passed today will require that the Department of Fish and Game conduct all annual inspections and will remove language that allowed facility-hired veterinarians to conduct the inspections.

“California is home to hundreds of facilities that possess dangerous wild animals and the overwhelming majority have never been properly inspected, raising serious public safety and animal welfare concerns. Tragic incidents, such as when a 700-pound bear killed a trainer, and rampaging chimpanzees who mauled and disfigured two people, may have been prevented through proper inspections,” said Nicole Paquette, deputy director of program and policy for The Humane Society of the United States and member of the state-appointed captive animal advisory committee. “We are grateful to the members of the Commission for approving this much-needed regulatory change that will ensure inspections are conducted on an unbiased and unannounced basis.”

This is the first step in strengthening California’s rules on the possession of dangerous wild animals. Although California bans the private possession of dangerous wild animals, it allows unqualified individuals to simply obtain a license to breed, exhibit and possess many of these animals, and large constrictor snakes are completely unregulated in the state of California. By strengthening California’s regulations, the Commission is joining the nationwide, progressive move to curb the animal welfare and public safety concerns inherent when unqualified citizens are allowed to own dangerous wild animals. Most recently, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a law banning the private acquisition of dangerous wild animals as pets and at unaccredited facilities.

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Media Contact: Pepper Van Tassell: 240-751-0232; pvantassell@humanesociety.org



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