Editor’s Note: All clinicians are required to research and identify an environmental issue that merits a legislative solution. As part of this exercise, they learn skills in lobbying and policy making. At the end of the semester each will participate in a simulation exercise “lobbying” a legislative chief of staff to gain support for their proposed legislation.
Proposal: An act to prohibit the private ownership of wild animals in New York State.
Problem: The practice of keeping wild and exotic animals as pets is reaching crisis levels for both people and animals. In Texas alone, there are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild globally. Exotic animals, such as lions, tigers, monkeys, bears, venomous snakes, wolves, and prairie dogs, are being privately possessed as pets across the country. By their very nature, these animals are wild and inherently dangerous. These animals pose public safety and health risks to their owners and to the community at large.
Solution: A complete ban on possession is necessary to protect the welfare of wild animals and to guarantee public health and safety. Under current New York State Law it is unlawful for a person to possess a wild animal without a permit to do so. A wild animal is defined as: all members of the felidae family (except domestic cats); all members of the canidae family (except domestic dogs); all bears; all non-human primates, venomous reptiles, and crocodiles.
A person who possessed a wild animal on the effective date of the original law, January 1, 2005, had 60 days to obtain a permit for the animal with the Department of Environmental Conservation. These permits are often easy to obtain and the owner is rarelymonitored for adequate animal care.
Under my proposal, owners with permits from 2005 will be allowed to keep their current animals, due to issues with the relocation of previously owned animals, o.