OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT BANNING THE POSSESSION OF POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS AND THE IMPORTATION, POSSESSION AND LIBERATION OF WILD ANIMALS.
Current law bans the possession of potentially dangerous animals. This bill increases the penalty for illegally possessing a potentially dangerous animal, and greatly increases the number of species considered potentially dangerous. It exempts from the ban certain zoos, nature centers, and similar facilities but eliminates an exemption for people who legally owned a potentially dangerous animal on or before May 23, 1983.
It increases the penalties for importing into, or releasing in, the state live fish, wild birds and mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates without a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit, and eliminates an exemption for certain small primates. It specifies species that cannot be imported or possessed under any circumstances, but exempts service primates from this restriction when certain conditions are met.
It prohibits anyone from operating, providing, selling, using, or offering to operate, provide, sell, or use any computer software or service in the state that allows someone, when not physically present, to remotely control a firearm or other weapon to hunt a live animal or bird. Violation is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of up to $ 2,000, or both.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009
ANIMAL SPECIES CONSIDERED POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS
The law prohibits anyone from owning a potentially dangerous animal, which includes certain wild species of cat, dog, and bear. The bill greatly expands the number of species considered potentially dangerous.
By law, people cannot possess the following wildlife, or any hybrid of:
1. members of the cat family, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, ocelots, jaguarundis, pumas (mountain lions), lynxes, and bobcats;
2. members of the dog family, including wolves and coyotes; and
3. members of the bear family, including the black bear, grizzly bear, and brown bear.
The bill also bans the possession of tigers, servals, caracals, jungle cats, and Savannah cats in the cat family; and foxes in the dog family.
It adds to the species of animals considered potentially dangerous, and thus illegal to possess, the:
1. hominidae, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans;
2. hylobatidae, including gibbons and lesser apes;
3. cercopithecidae, including baboons and macaques;
4. macropodidae, including kangaroos and wallabies;
5. mustelidae, including wolverines;
6. hyaenidae, including hyenas;
7. elephantidae, (elephants);
8. hippopotamidae, (the hippopotamus);
9. rhinocerotidae, (the rhinoceros);
10. suidae, including warthogs;
11. alligatoridae, including alligators and caimans;
12. crocodylidae, including crocodiles;
13. gavialidae, including gavials;
14. elapidae, including cobras, coral snakes, and mambas;
15. viperidae, including copperheads, rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and all other adders and vipers;
16. rear-fanged members of the colubridae in the genera lothornis boiga, thelotornis, thabdophis, enhydris, dispholidus, clelia, rhabdophis, hydrodynastes, philodryas, and malpolon;
17. Burmese/Indian, African rock, amethystine, and reticulated pythons of the pythonidae;
18. the green, yellow, and dark spotted anacondas of the boidae;
19. the helodermatidae, including Gila monsters and beaded lizards; and
20. the Nile monitor, water monitor, black-throat monitor, white-throat monitor, crocodile monitor and komodo dragon of the varanidae.
ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF A DANGEROUS ANIMAL
By law, anyone who possesses a potentially dangerous animal faces a maximum $ 1,000 fine, and the DEP commissioner must bill the owner for the costs of seizing, caring for, maintaining, and disposing of the animal. The commissioner may ask the attorney general to bring an action in Superior Court to recover the penalty and any amounts owed.
The bill (1) increases the maximum fine to $ 2,000, (2) allows the commissioner to bill the owner for the costs of relocating the animal, and (3) allows her to ask the attorney general to ask the court for appropriate equitable and injunctive relief. As under current law, each violation is a separate and distinct offense, and in the case of a continuing violation, each day is considered a separate and distinct offense.
The bill makes it a class A misdemeanor for anyone to willfully violate the law banning the possession of a potentially dangerous animal. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum fine of $ 2,000, up to one year in prison, or both.
The current prohibition against owning potentially dangerous animals does not apply to municipal parks, zoos, nature centers, museums, and laboratories and research facilities maintained by scientific and education institutions, among others. The bill requires that municipal parks and zoos must be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Zoological Association of America to be exempt. It exempts public, nonprofit aquariums, and requires that, to be exempt, the laboratories and research facilities maintained by scientific and educational institutions be registered with the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
The bill eliminates an exemption from the ban for people who legally possessed a potentially dangerous animal before May 23, 1983.
ILLEGALLY IMPORTING WILDLIFE INTO THE STATE
The law requires anyone importing, introducing, possessing or liberating in the state, any live fish, wild bird, wild mammal, reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate to have a DEP permit. It exempts from the requirement the importation or possession of a primate species weighing up to 50 pounds at maturity, if the animal was imported or possessed before October 1, 2003. The bill eliminates the exemption for these primates.
The bill prohibits anyone, including otherwise exempt institutions, from importing or possessing any of the following species under any circumstances:
1. a primate in the families cheirogaleidae, lemuridae, lepilemuridae, indriidae, lorisdae, loris, daubentoniidae, galagidae, galago, tarsiidae, callitrichidae, pitheciidae, atelidae, or cebidae (except for certain capuchin monkeys, see below);
2. the sciuridae, including the prairie dog;
3. the viverridae, including the civet and genet;
4. any venomous species in the family arachnidea, including tarantulas and scorpions; and
5. any poisonous species in the family dendrobatidea, including poison arrow frogs.
Service Monkey Exemption to Import Ban
The bill allows the commissioner to issue a permit for a service primate for a permanently disabled person with a severe mobility impairment, if the person submits written documentation or certification to the commissioner:
1. from a licensed medical doctor attesting to the disability, mobility impairment, and need for a service primate to provide an essential function that the disabled person cannot perform;
2. that such service primate was legally obtained, is of the genus Cebus (capuchin monkey), and is trained by an accredited service primate training organization; and
3. that the organization providing the service primate is a nonprofit organization complying with all applicable federal and state animal welfare laws.
Current law allows the commissioner to exempt, by regulation, institutions such as zoos, research laboratories, colleges or universities, public nonprofit aquariums, and nature centers from the permit requirement. The bill also allows her to exempt, by regulation, municipal parks and museums. It eliminates the blanket exemption for colleges and universities, authorizing her instead to exempt laboratories and research facilities maintained by scientific or educational institutions.
Seizure and Disposal of Illegally Imported Animals
By law, DEP must seize and dispose of an illegally imported or owned animal. The bill allows, rather than requires, DEP to seize and dispose of the animal. It also allows her to relocate it. It authorizes the commissioner to bill the owner or person illegally possessing (but not importing, introducing, or liberating) the animal for the costs of seizing, caring for, maintaining, relocating, or disposing of it.
By law, a violation of the import ban is an infraction (see BACKGROUND). The bill instead sets a maximum penalty for violators of a $ 1,000 fine, to be set by a court, for each offense. Each violation is a separate and distinct offense, and, in the event of a continuing violation, each day's continuance is deemed a separate and distinct offense. The commissioner may ask the attorney general to bring an action in Superior Court to recover the civil penalty and any amounts owed for seizing, caring for, maintaining, relocating, or disposing of the animal, and for an order providing equitable and injunctive relief.
The bill makes it a crime for anyone to willfully violate the law or any regulation banning illegal importation. Anyone convicted of willfully violating the law or regulations is guilty of a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $ 500, up to three months in prison, or both.
Infractions are punishable by fines, usually set by a Superior Court judge, of between $ 35 and $ 90, plus a $ 20 or $ 35 surcharge and an additional fee based on the amount of the fine.
Joint Favorable Substitute