SB 263 - The Outdoor Community
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SB 263


December 22, 2014 01:56 PM

Senator Richard Alloway

All Senate members


In the near future, I plan to reintroduce legislation that amends Title 34 (Game and Wildlife Code) to end the issuance of general exotic wildlife possession permits as of January 1, 2016, effectively banning future possession of certain exotic wildlife by the general public; and redefine “Exotic Wildlife” and “Exotic Wildlife Dealer.”

This legislation will amend Section 2961 of Title 34 (Game) by redefining “Exotic Wildlife” to include all non-indigenous animals and the following: nonhuman primates, bears, coyotes, gray wolves, red wolves, bobcats, lions, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars and any crossbreed of the animals specified having similar characteristics in appearance or features. The term will not apply to any birds, equines, camels, alpacas, llamas, deer, moose, elk, wild cattle, spiral horned antelopes, rats, mice, hamsters, chinchillas, viscachas, rabbits and hares, hedgehogs, moon rats, gliders, striped possums, ferrets or domestic guinea pigs.

Section 2961 is also amended to define “Exotic Wildlife Dealer” as any person who imports into the Commonwealth, possesses, buys, sells, locates or finds for a fee, barters, donates, gives away or otherwise disposes of exotic wildlife, and engages in at least five documented transactions annually involving exotic wildlife. The definition of “Menagerie” is also amended to be any place where wild birds or wild animals, including exotic wildlife, or 10 or more birds or animals which have similar characteristics and appearance to birds or animals wild by nature are kept in captivity for the evident purpose of public exhibition with charge.

The bill also amends Section 2963 (relating to exotic wildlife possession permits) of Title 34 to provide that, starting January 1, 2016, the Game Commission will no longer issue permits for the possession of exotic wildlife, except for those related to exotic wildlife dealer permits and menagerie permits.

These provisions shall not apply to a wildlife sanctuary that the Commission has designated as a facility to operate as a non-profit place of refuge to provide temporary or lifetime shelter, care and protection for abused, neglected, unwanted, impounded, orphaned or displaced wildlife under section 2902 and is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and does not conduct any commercial activity with respect to wildlife, does not use exotic wildlife for entertainment or in a traveling exhibit, does not breed any exotic wildlife, does not allow members of the public the opportunity to come into direct contact with the exotic wildlife and does not allow members of the public to feed exotic wildlife.

These exceptions allow zoos, wildlife parks, designated wildlife sanctuaries, etc. to continue being permitted to possess exotic wildlife. Also exempted, or “grandfathered”, is exotic wildlife lawfully possessed under a permit prior to December 31, 2015. Such a permit authorizes the continued possession of exotic wildlife specifically identified under the permit. The permit does not allow for additional wildlife to be acquired after that date, but does cover young born after that date from otherwise lawfully held exotic wildlife. Section 2963 (c) (relating to unlawful acts) is amended to provide that unlawful release of exotic wildlife is a misdemeanor offense of a third degree, with a second or subsequent conviction in a seven year period being a misdemeanor of the first degree. Any other violation of the section is a summary of the first degree, with a second or subsequent violation within seven years being a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Section 2964 is amended to add that it is unlawful for members of the public to come into direct contact with the exotic wildlife in a menagerie.

Title 34 Section 2961 (relating to definitions) currently defines “Exotic Wildlife” to include but not be limited to all bears, coyotes, lions, tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, wolves and any crossbreed of these animals that have similar characteristics in appearance or features. It does not currently list any species to which it does not apply. Hedgehogs and sugar gliders are currently banned under regulation of the Game Commission. This legislation would not include gliders in the definition of exotic wildlife. Gliders will be legal to own in the Commonwealth upon passage of this legislation.

Under Section 2961, “Exotic Wildlife Dealer” is currently defined as any person who imports into the Commonwealth, possesses, buys, sells, locates or finds for a fee, barters, donates, gives away or otherwise disposes of more than one animal classified as exotic wildlife. Section 2963 currently provides for the issuance of exotic wildlife possession permits, authorizing the holder to purchase, receive or possess exotic wildlife from any lawful source. Section 2963 (c) (relating to unlawful acts) currently provides that a violation relating to permits is a summary offense of the third degree, and any other violation of the section is a summary of the fifth degree.
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