Tag Archives: west virginia

WV: Another Win For Herpetoculture!

stsealAfter engaging Chairman Miley’s office at the WV House Judiciary Committee, and Chairman Craig’s office at WV House Natural Resources Committee the US Herpetoculture Alliance has been informed that it is “highly unlikely” that SB 466 and HB 2209 will move forward. West Virginia herpetoculturists can breathe a sigh of relief, both of these bills will be dead tomorrow. They will both hit deadlines for reporting out of committee on April 11, 2013.

HB 2209 was “dead on arrival.”  Once introduced into the WV House of Delegates, it never found any traction once it was referred to committee. However, SB 466 was a much different story and gave us quite a scare.

SB 466 is a broad sweeping, ambiguous ban on exotic animals. “Dangerous Wild Animals” are defined as “mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and aquatic life, including hybrids, that are dangerous to humans, other animals and the environment due to their inherent nature.”  Wildlife, agricultural animals and domestic animals already defined by West Virginia statute are exempted.  However, SB 466 vests authority to a Dangerous Wild Animal Board (the “Board”)  to list dangerous wild animals pursuant to administrative rule making authority.

SB 466 was sponsored by Senate Majority Whip William Laird. Senator Laird is also Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee to which SB 466 was referred. SB 466 was reported favorably out of Natural Resources on March 6th, the same day it was introduced and referred to committee. Subsequently SB 466 was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee without notice nor testimony on April 2nd where it then moved to the Senate floor and passed by a vote of 32-1 on April 3rd.

SB 466 then crossed over to the House of Delegates and was referred to the House Judiciary and Finance Committees. This was where the Herp Alliance was able to more fully engage the bill. The Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt, engaged in a number of conversations with Chairman Wiley’s office at House Judiciary. Wyatt had strong grass roots support from Joe Perdue, Greg Stephens and dozens of Herp Alliance supporters from West Virginia Reptile Watch, a WV watchdog group of businessmen and herp enthusiasts. Wyatt was told that SB 466 had not been assigned to an attorney at House Judiciary, and didn’t likely have enough momentum to run prior to the April 11 deadline. The only way SB 466 could move forward is to be reported out of the Judiciary committee, and then be reported out of the Finance committee by tomorrow. That is NOT likely to happen.

The Herp Alliance would like to thank West Virginia Reptile Watch and it’s leaders Joe Perdue and Greg Stephens for a job well done! Tomorrow will be a great new day in West Virginia!

 

West Virginia SB 466 Action Alert!

stsealOn March 6, 2013, West Virginia Senators Laird, Kessler, Stollings, Fitzsimmons and Williams introduced Senate Bill 466, entitled “Dangerous Wild Animals Act.”

SB 466 is significantly DIFFERENT from HB 2209 that we have reported on previously and for which we have a separate Action Alert.

SB 466 is a broad sweeping, ambiguous ban on exotic animals.  “Dangerous Wild Animals” are defined as “mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and aquatic life, including hybrids, that are dangerous to humans, other animals and the environment due to their inherent nature.”  Wildlife, agricultural animals and domestic animals already defined by West Virginia statute are exempted.  However, SB 466 vests authority to a Dangerous Wild Animal Board (the “Board”)  to list dangerous wild animals pursuant to administrative rule making authority.

Pursuant to SB 466, the Board is comprised of exactly three people:  the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the Director of the Division of Natural Resources, or their designees.  These three government officials would have complete discretion to decide at any time what animals will or will not be banned without legislative process.

The only exemptions to the ban are:

  •  Institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or an AZA-certified facility;
  • Animal control or law-enforcement agencies or officer;
  • Licensed veterinary hospitals or clinics treating dangerous wild animals;
  • A licensed or accredited research medical institution;
  • A research facility as defined in the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2132(e), as amended;
  • A circus that is an incorporated, class c licensee under the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2132(e), as amended;
  • A person temporarily transporting a dangerous wild animal through the state if the transit time is not more than forty-eight hours and the animal is at all times confined sufficiently to prevent escape.

There are no exemptions for educational institutions, rescue organizations, sanctuaries or any private owners.  Current owners of banned animals (who would not know what animals are banned until after the passage of SB 466 when the Board determines that list) will be grandfathered in provided that they meet a strict set of guidelines, including insurance requirements.

SB 466 will vest the West Virginia government with complete authority to ban whatever species of animals it so chooses.  It will decimate small businesses and it will create a situation of chaos for owners of banned animals who will not know until SB 466 becomes law that they are subject to onerous and impossible requirements, putting not only the owners at risk, but the animals themselves.

Thank you for your help and grassroots support!

Directions:

  • Fill out the form below;
  • Personalize your message in the box below or just sign it if you wish;
  • Fill in the text code below; and
  • Hit send!

[contact-form-7 id=”1585″ title=”West Virginia Senate Natural Resources Committee_copy”]

West Virginia Action Alert on HB 2209

stsealTo better understand WV HB 2209, please read the Herp Alliance Position Statement on it.

Please complete the form below to send an email to each member of the West Virginia House Committee on Natural Resources.  Herp Alliance has included a sample letter for you.  Contacting the committee members is easy.  Just follow the simple instructions below.

If you would prefer to send individual emails to each committee member (and we do recommend personalized contact, the list of members and their email addresses is included at the bottom of this article.

In any communications with the legislators, please be civil and courteous and always thank them for their time.

Thank you for your help and grassroots support!

Directions:

  • Fill out the form below;
  • Personalize your message in the box below or just sign it if you wish;
  • Fill in the text code below; and
  • Hit send!

[contact-form-7 id=”829″ title=”West Virginia House Natural Resources Committee”]

 West Virginia House Committee on Natural Resources Contact List

Delegate Craig – Chair                           kjcraigwv@aol.com

Delegate Pino – Vice-Chair                     john.pino@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Hamilton – Minority Chair       bill.hamilton@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Ireland – Minority Vice-Chair  woody.ireland@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Eldridge                                   jeff.eldridge@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Guthrie                                     nancy.guthrie@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Jones                                       ronnie.jones@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Manypenny                              mike.manypenny@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Moore                                       clif.moore@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Moye                                         rickymoye@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Phillips, L.                                    linda.phillips@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Phillips, R.                                rupert.phillips@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Sponaugle                                isaac.sponaugle@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Swartzmiller                             rswartzmiller@gmail.com

Delegate Tomblin                                    ted.tomblin@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Wells                                         danny.wells@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Anderson                                  bill.anderson@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Butler                                        jim.butler@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Canterbury                               ray.canterbury@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Ellem                                         john.ellem@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Evans                                        allen.evans@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Romine                                     roger.romine@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Shott                                         john.shott@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Smith, R.                                  randy.smith@wvhouse.gov

Delegate Walters                                     ron.walters@wvhouse.gov

West Virginia HB 2209 – Herp Alliance Position

nunst100WEST 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.