WEST Virginia has proposed a Dangerous Animals bill. Delegate Manypenny introduced HB 2209 on February 13, 2013 and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.
Multiple mammals are covered, including all non-human primates. Reptiles defined as “potentially dangerous wild animals” include:
- All species of the atractaspidae family of the squamata order from the reptilia class and the dispholidus typus of the colubridae family of the same order and same class;
- All species of the elapidae family of the squamata order from the reptilia class, such as cobras, mambas, kraits, coral snakes, and Australian tiger snakes;
- All species of the hydrophiidae family of the squamata order from the reptilia class, such as sea snakes;
- Water monitors and crocodile monitors from the varanidae family of the squamata order from the reptilia class;
- All species of the viperidae family of the squamata order from the reptilia class, such as rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, bushmasters, puff adders, and gaboon vipers; and
- All species of the crocodilia order from the reptilia class, such as crocodiles, alligators, calmans and gavials.
Under HB 2209, AZA zoos, non profit animal protection organizations, wildlife sanctuaries, research institutions, circuses, and approved fairs are exempt.
Unless you fall into an exemption, you cannot even drive a restricted animal through the state without committing a criminal offense unless you exit the state within 24 hours.
The restricted animals are otherwise banned and ownership or possession is illegal. Restricted animals legally obtained before January 1, 2014 will be grandfathered in, but they cannot be bred. The burden of proof is on the owner or possessor to demonstrate that the animal was acquired prior to January 1, 2014.
HB 2209 gives law enforcement the authority to immediately confiscate a potentially dangerous wild animal if: (1) The animal control authority or law-enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the animal was acquired after January 1, 2014; (2) The animal poses a public safety or health risk; (3) The animal is in poor health and condition as a result of the possessor; or (4) The animal is being held in contravention of this section.
If the confiscated animal is not returned to the owner, the State is entitled to release it to an exempt organization or to euthanize it.
Violations of this law would be misdemeanor criminal offenses and the offender would be subject to fines of $200-$2000 per animal per day.
Herp Alliance opposes HB 2209. We shall have sample letters and legislator addresses on line this evening to voice your opposition.