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Louisiana State Laws Governing Private Possession of Exotic Animals

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• LA. ADMIN. CODE tit. 76, §115 - Possession of Potentially Dangerous Wild Quadrupeds, Big Exotic Cats, and Non-Human Primates

A. This Commission finds that possession of certain potentially dangerous quadrupeds, big exotic cats, and non-human primates poses significant hazards to public safety and health, is detrimental to the welfare of the animals, and may have negative impacts on conservation and recovery of some threatened and endangered species.

1. The size and strength of such animals in concert with their natural and unpredictable and/or predatory nature can result in severe injury or death when an attack upon a human occurs. Often such attacks are unprovoked and a person other than the owner, often a child, is the victim. Furthermore, there is no approved rabies vaccine for such animals, so even minor scratches and injuries inflicted upon humans or other animals could be deadly.

2. Responsible possession of these potentially dangerous wild quadrupeds, big exotic cats, and non-human primates necessitates that they be confined in secure facilities. Prolonged confinement is by its nature stressful to these animals and proper long-term care by experienced persons is essential to the health and welfare of these animals and to society.

3. Certain of these animals are listed as endangered species and others are so similar in appearance to endangered subspecies as to make practical distinction difficult. This similarity of appearance may provide a means to market illegally obtained endangered animals and can limit the effective enforcement of endangered species laws.

B. This Commission regulation prohibits importation and private possession, and otherwise regulates certain wild quadrupeds, big exotic cats, and non-human primates as provided herein.

C. 1. Except as provided herein, it shall be unlawful to import into, possess, purchase or sell within the State of Louisiana, by any means whatsoever including but not limited to transactions conducted via the internet, any of the following species or its subspecies of live wild quadrupeds, big exotic cats, or non-human primates, domesticated or otherwise (hereinafter ''listed animals''):

  1. Black bear (Ursus americanus);
  2. Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos);
  3. Polar bear (Ursus maritimus);
  4. Red wolf (Canis rufus);
  5. Gray wolf (Canis lupus);
  6. Wolf dog hybrid (Canis lupus or Canis rufus x Canis familiarus);
  7. All non-human primates;
  8. The following big exotic cats:

    1. Tigers;
    2. Lions;
    3. Leopards (including, but not limited to Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard);
    4. Jaguars;
    5. Cheetahs;
    6. Cougars or mountain lions (Felis concolor);
    7. All subspecies of the above listed exotic cats;
    8. Hybrids resulting from cross breeding of the above listed exotic cats

2. Holders of a Potentially Dangerous Wild Quadruped Permit allowing possession of any listed animal, where the permit is valid on the effective date of this regulation, will be ''grandfathered'' and the permit will be renewed annually until existing permitted captive animals expire, or are legally transferred out of state, or are transferred to a suitable facility. No additional listed animals may be acquired by any means whatsoever, including breeding.

D. 1. Wolf-Dog Hybrids. The prohibition against wolfdog hybrids expired January 1, 1997. Persons are cautioned that local ordinances or other state regulations may prohibit possession of these animals. Any animal which appears indistinguishable from a wolf, or is in any way represented to be a wolf shall be considered to be a wolf in the absence of bona fide documentation to the contrary.

E. Exempted Entities. The following organizations and entities shall be exempt from this regulation, including permitting:

1. Zoos accredited or certified by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA);

2. Research facilities as defined in the Animal Welfare Act as found in the United States Code Title 7, Chapter 54, §2132(e), including but not limited to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Primate Center, the Tulane National Primate Research Center, and Chimp Haven, Inc., located in Shreveport, LA; and

3. Any person transporting any listed animal through the State if the transit time is not more than 24 hours and the animal is at all times maintained within a confinement sufficient to prevent escape and contact with the public. Exhibiting the listed animal, in any manner, is prohibited.

4. Circuses, limited to those temporarily in this state, offering varied performances by live animals, clowns, and acrobats for public entertainment, and which are incorporated Class C licensees under Chapter I of title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Notwithstanding the above, circuses do not include entertainment that includes any listed animal in any type of wrestling, photography opportunity with a patron, or an activity in which any listed animal and a patron are in close contact with each other.

5. Louisiana colleges or universities, for possession of a big exotic cat of the species traditionally kept by that college or university as a school mascot, after proper documentation to the Department that the college or university has consistently over the years possessed a big exotic cat as its mascot.

F. Permitted Entities. The following organizations and entities may be exempted from this regulation after applying for and receiving a permit from the Department to possess any listed animal under the following conditions:

1. Other zoos and educational institutions not covered under Paragraph (E)(1)-(2) above. The Secretary shall determine whether to issue a permit and any conditions for the permit on a case by case basis.

2. Animal Sanctuaries accredited or certified by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). Permitted Sanctuaries are prohibited from exhibiting, breeding, or selling any listed animal. Listed animals must be surgically sterilized or separately housed to prevent breeding. Listed animals must be housed in such a manner as to prevent public contact and in compliance with the enclosure rules provided herein in Subsection I. Permitted animal sanctuaries are prohibited from transporting these animals to any public building or place where they may come into contact with the public including, but not limited to schools, hospitals, malls, private residences, or other commercial or retail establishments.

G. Non-Human Primates.

1. As provided below, the following individuals may be exempted from this regulation after applying for and receiving a permit from the Department to possess a non-human primate. The permit will be for one year and must be renewed annually under the following conditions:

  1. A physically challenged individual who has exclusive possession of no more than one monkey that is working to aid and assist said individual with his/her disability and where the monkey has been obtained through and trained by a licensed and accredited non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of lives for physically challenged.
  2. An individual who legally possesses one or more non-human primates immediately prior to the effective date of this regulation and who can prove legal ownership is authorized to keep those non-human primates but is prohibited from acquiring any additional non-human primates by any means whatsoever, including breeding.
  3. The individuals listed in this subsection must annually apply for and receive a permit from the Department. The permit application shall include:

    1. The name, address, telephone number, and date of birth of applicant.
    2. A description of each non-human primate applicant possesses, including the scientific name, sex, age, color, weight, and any distinguishing marks.
    3. A photograph of each non-human primate and its permanent enclosure.
    4. The physical location where the nonhuman primate is to be kept.
    5. Proof of legal ownership. (Proof of legal ownership includes original purchase documents, veterinary records, or other documentation, acceptable to the Department demonstrating ownership.)
    6. The microchip or tattoo number of each non-human primate.
    7. A health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian within one year prior to the date of the application stating that the animal is free of all symptoms of contagious and/or infectious diseases at the time of the examination and that all appropriate tests and preventative measures have been performed as deemed necessary by the veterinarian.

2. Permit holders must house their non-human primates in such a manner as to prevent public contact and are prohibited from transporting their non-human primate to any public building or place where the public may come into contact with the non-human primate, including, but not limited to schools, hospitals or malls.

3. Permit holders must have their non-human primates examined annually by a licensed veterinarian to insure that the animal is free of all symptoms of contagious and/or infectious diseases at the time of examination and all appropriate tests and preventative measures have been performed as deemed necessary by the veterinarian.

4. Permit holders are required to report any escapes to the Department within 24 hours of discovery of the escape.

5. Permit holders are required to submit any changes to the permit information provided in the permit application within 30 days of the date those changes take effect or the permit will be considered invalid.

H. Big Exotic Cats. An individual who legally possesses one or more exotic cats listed in Subparagraph C.1.h. above on August 15, 2006 (the effective date of Act 715 of the Regular Session of 2006) and who can prove legal ownership is authorized to keep those exotic cats under the following conditions:

1. Only those exotic cats legally possessed on August 15, 2006 will be permitted. Additional exotic cats cannot be acquired by any means whatsoever, including breeding.

2. The individuals listed in this subsection must annually apply for and receive a permit from the Department. The permit application shall be on a form provided by the Department and require:

  1. The name, address, telephone number, driver's license number, and date of birth of applicant.
  2. A description of each exotic cat applicant possesses, including the scientific name, sex, age, color, weight, and any distinguishing marks.
  3. One or more photographs of each exotic cat and its permanent enclosure.
  4. The physical location where each exotic cat is to be kept.
  5. Proof of legal ownership of the exotic cat on August 15, 2006. Proof of legal ownership includes original purchase documents, veterinary records, or other documentation, acceptable to the Department, demonstrating ownership.
  6. The microchip number of each exotic cat.
  7. A health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian within one year prior to the date of the application. The certificate shall include the name, address, and license number of the examining veterinarian.
  8. A written plan for the quick and safe recapture or destruction of an escaped exotic cat listed in the permit. This plan must also be filed with the local sheriff's department, and police department if applicable.
  9. Statement that permittee has legal authority to possess weapons and/or other equipment necessary to carry out the plan provided in Subparagraph H.2.h.
  10. Signed agreement, on a form provided by the Department, indemnifying and holding harmless the State, Department, and other applicable public agencies and employees, including agents, contractors, and the general public from any claims for damages resulting from the permitted exotic cat(s).
  11. Signed agreement that the permittee will be responsible for any and all costs associated with the escape, capture, and disposition of a permitted exotic cat.
  12. Proof of liability insurance from an A rated or higher insurance company in the amount of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) for each exotic cat, up to a maximum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00), valid and effective continuously for the entire permit term. The policy shall specifically include a provision requiring notice from the carrier to the Secretary of the Department a minimum of thirty days prior to cancellation of the policy.

3. Permitted exotic cats must be prevented from breeding by separate housing or sterilization. Sterilization records must be kept on the premises and available for inspection by the Department.

4. Permittee or designee must live on the premises. Designee must have the ability to carry out all requirements of the permittee.

5. Department personnel shall be allowed access to inspect the permitted exotic cat(s), facilities, equipment, and records for the purpose of ensuring compliance with these regulations.

6. A weapon capable of destroying the animal(s), and a long range delivery method for chemical immobilization shall be kept on the premises at all times. Additionally, the applicant shall provide a signed statement from a licensed veterinarian identifying a designated veterinarian who will be on-call and available at all times to deliver chemical immobilization in the event of an escape.

7. Clearly legible signs, approved by the Department, shall be posted and displayed at each possible entrance onto the premises where the permitted exotic cat is located. The signs shall clearly state ''Danger, Wild Animal On Premises'' with letters of a size and font easily readable from thirty (30) feet away.

8. Each permitted exotic cat must be implanted with a microchip by or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

9. Each permitted exotic cat must remain in its enclosure on the property listed in the permit at all times and cannot be removed from the enclosure for any reason. However, the exotic cat may be removed for proper medical care for medical emergencies or medical procedures, but only under the direction of a licensed veterinarian.

10. Permittee must notify the Department, the local sheriff's department, and police department if applicable, immediately upon discovery that the permitted exotic cat is no longer in its enclosure.

11. Permittee must notify the Department prior to any disposition of a permitted exotic cat, including transportation out-of-state. The Department reserves the right to supervise and accompany any such disposition.

12. Permitted exotic cats must be kept in a sanitary and safe condition and may not be kept in a manner that results in the maltreatment or neglect of the exotic cat. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Drinking water must be provided in clean containers, pools must be cleaned as needed to ensure good water quality, enclosures must have adequate surface water drainage, and hard floor surfaces must be regularly scrubbed and disinfected.
  2. Food must be unspoiled and not contaminated, and be of a type and quantity sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements of the permitted exotic cat.
  3. Fecal and food waste must be removed from enclosures daily and disposed of in a manner that prevents noxious odors and insect and other pests.
  4. Sufficient shaded areas must be available for each exotic cat that is maintained in an enclosure, regardless of group rank or status.

13. In addition to complying with this regulation, Permittee must comply with any and all applicable federal, other state, or local law, rule, regulation, ordinance, permit, or other permission. Failure to comply with any such law, rule, regulation, ordinance, permit, or other permission constitutes a violation of this regulation.

I. Enclosure Requirements. Minimum pen/enclosure requirements are as follows:

1. Bears

  1. single animal: 25 feet long x 12 feet wide x 10 feet high, covered roof;
  2. pair: 30 feet long x 15 feet wide x 10 feet high, covered roof;
  3. materials: chain link 9 gauge minimum;
  4. safety perimeter rail;
  5. pool: 6 feet x 4 feet x 18 inches deep with facilities for spraying or wetting bear(s);

2. Wolf

  1. 15 feet long x 8 feet wide x 6 feet high per animal, covered roof;
  2. secluded den area: 4 feet x 4 feet for each animal;
  3. materials: chain link wire or equivalent;
  4. safety perimeter rail;

3. Cougar, Mountain lion

  1. single animal: 10 feet long x 8 feet wide x 8 feet high, covered roof;
  2. pair: 15 feet long x 8 feet wide x 8 feet high, covered roof;
  3. materials: chain link 9 gauge minimum;
  4. safety perimeter rail;
  5. claw log;
  6. shelf: 24 inch wide x 8 feet long, 40 inches off floor.

4. Big Exotic Cats.

  1. Enclosures shall be constructed and covered at the top with nine (9) gauge steel chain link or equivalent, with tension bars and metal clamps.
  2. Enclosures must be well braced and securely fastened to the floor or ground and shall utilize metal clamps or braces of equivalent strength as that proscribed for cage construction.
  3. Enclosures shall be secured by at least two sets of doors, so that the first door must be closed before the second door is opened. The inside door to the animal enclosure must open in. These doors must remain locked at all times when unattended. The doors must be designed so that the frame, hasps and locks are of sufficient strength to restrain the exotic cat.
  4. A perimeter fence of at lease eight (8) feet in height (secondary barrier) and located a minimum of five (5) feet from the enclosure sufficient to prevent unauthorized entry or direct physical contact with the exotic cat.
  5. The mesh size and/or distance between bars for all enclosures and fences shall be sufficiently small to prevent escape and/or direct physical contact with the exotic cat.
  6. Enclosures shall include a den area or other connected housing unit in which the exotic cat may be secured for the safe servicing and cleaning of the remaining enclosure. This area shall be constructed with steel, reinforced cinder block, or concrete sufficient to withstand damage from high winds, hard rains, hail, and other natural phenomenon.

J. PENALTY FOR VIOLATION. Unless another penalty is provided by law, violation of these regulations will be a Class Two violation as defined in Title 56 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. In addition, upon conviction for violation of these regulations, any license/permit may be revoked and the quadrupeds or other animals seized in connection with the violation will be forfeited.

AUTHORITY NOTE: Promulgated in accordance with R.S. 56:6(31), R.S. 56:115, R.S. 56:171, and R.S. 56:1904F.

HISTORICAL NOTE: Promulgated by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, LR 21:1356 (December 1995), LR 32:647 (April 2006), LR 33: (June 2007).

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