sSB 285


SUMMARY: This bill  limits the scope of a law that bans
the possession of  potentially  dangerous  animals.  It
allows people who have illegally possessed such animals
to keep them  if  they  register with the Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP).  It increases penalties
for  illegal  possession  and  requires  DEP  to  adopt

EFFECTIVE DATE:  Upon passage


Species Affected

With limited exceptions, current law bans possession of
animals in the  cat,  dog,  and bear families (felidae,
canidae, and ursidae) as well as named species in these
families such as  lions,  tigers,  and  bears. The bill
limits the scope  of the law to the named species, plus
any other species  or  animal  that  DEP  determines is
potentially dangerous. It also bans possession of:

    1.   a wolf or coyote hybrid, coy dog, or any other
         kind of hybrid wild canid;

    2.   the  offspring of  a  wild  canid  (member  of
         canidae family) or  hybrid  wild  canid  and a
         domestic dog or hybrid wild canid; and

    3.   the offspring of any wild felid or hybrid wild
         felid and a domestic cat or hybrid wild felid.

The last ban does not apply to domesticated show or pet
cats registered with  a  nationally  or internationally
recognized  breeding  association   or   registry  that
certifies that it  has not had any wild felid ancestors
for the past  three  generations.  Current DEP practice
bans possession of  animals  in the three families with
any wild ancestry.

Exempt Owners

Current law exempts  individuals  who legally possessed
potentially dangerous animals  before May 24, 1983 from
the possession ban.  The bill expands this exemption to
include anyone who owns animals covered by existing law
and the bill on or before January 1, 1994 who registers
the animal with  the  DEP  commissioner  by  October 1,

Current law exempts  certain institutions from the ban.
The bill eliminates  the exemption for municipal parks,
and specifies that  the  exemption  for zoos and nature
centers is limited  to  public non-profit institutions.
It   allows   museums,   laboratories,   and   research
facilities affiliated with  scientific  and educational
facilities,  as  well   as  those  maintained  by  such
institutions, to legally possess the animals.

After October 1, 1994, no one can breed banned animals,
import them into  the  state,  or  export them to other


The bill eliminates the DEP commissioner's authority to
seize  potentially  dangerous   animals  and,  instead,
requires him to  adopt  regulations for the seizure and
disposal of the  animals,  including notice and hearing
procedures   that  allow   the   owner   a   reasonable
opportunity to contest his action.

It increases the  penalty for illegal possession. Under
current law, violators  are  subject to a fine of up to
$100. The bill  sets  the  penalty at a fine of between
$200 and $500,  imprisonment for 30 days to six months,
or both. It  specifies  that  each  illegally possessed
animal is a  separate offense. It also makes anyone who
violates the law  liable  for  the  state's  reasonable
costs and expenses in investigating and prosecuting the


In addition to  the  regulations  described  above, DEP
must adopt regulations providing objective criteria for
(1)  defining  exempt   institutions  and  (2)  issuing
approvals needed to possess wild or exotic animals.


Environment Committee

    Joint Favorable Substitute
    Yea 23    Nay 3