Born Free USA Position: SUPPORT
Update (March, 2014): This bill failed to get a vote before the deadline, so it is dead.
Update (February, 2014): This bill was amended in the Assembly Committee On Consumer Protection. See the italicized and stricken portions of the Bill Description below for details.
This bill generally prohibits the possession, breeding, and sale of dangerous exotic animals. Dangerous exotic animals are defined as nonnative big cats, including lions and tigers;
nonnative bears, including brown bears and polar bears; apes, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and gibbons; and crocodilians, including alligators, crocodiles, and caimans.
Several types of facilities are exempted from this ban: veterinarians, accredited zoos, municipal zoos, circuses, federally licensed research facilities, and wildlife sanctuaries. Current exotics owners will be allowed to keep their “pet” if they register the animal with the municipality and prevent the animal from breeding.
If a person does not qualify for any of the exemptions above, they may still import, sell, or transfer dangerous exotic animals if all the following apply:
1. The person possesses animals in a county with a population of 50,000 or less.
2. The person holds a Class C exhibitor license under the federal Animal Welfare Act, and has not been cited by the USDA for exhibiting without a license.
3. The person does not increase the total number of dangerous exotic animals he/she owns.
4. The dangerous exotic animal is prevented from breeding.
5. The person annually obtains a signed statement from a veterinarian.
The bill prohibits a person from allowing a member of the public to come into direct contact with a dangerous exotic animal and requires the owner of a dangerous exotic animal to inform local law enforcement if the animal escapes. The bill also authorizes a city, village, town, or county to enact an ordinance relating to dangerous exotic animals if the ordinance is at least as strict as the provisions in the bill relating to dangerous exotic animals.
Penalties: A violation of this law will result in a fine of not more than $1,000. Each animal constitutes a separate violation. If a person violates the ban on ownership and the dangerous exotic animal causes property damage or attacks an individual, the person may be fined not more than $2,000.
Check out our page on exotic pets for more details on why private ownership of wild animals is both cruel and dangerous.
Wisconsin residents, call or email your state representative and ask them to support reintroduction of this bill in 2015!