IFAW responds to new West Virginia law prohibiting private ownership of wild animals
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed the Dangerous Wild Animal Act into law. The bill (HB 4393), prohibiting private ownership of dangerous wild animals, was sponsored by Delegate Randy Swartzmiller (D-1).
The new law includes a recommendation on phasing out future ownership of big cats, bears, primates, venomous and constrictor snakes, and alligators; institutes a Dangerous Wild Animal Board to create a list of animals to include under the law, and addresses Animal Welfare Act violations by roadside zoos.
“We commend the governor and legislature for this tremendous step forward for animal welfare and public safety in West Virginia.” said Tracy Coppola, campaigns officer at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “We were honored to work on the bill in coalition with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and celebrate this victory with them.”
The Dangerous Wild Animal Act ends West Virginia’s history of being one of six states without any restrictions on big cats and other exotics in private hands.
Coppola added: “As with our campaign to pass the federal Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (H.R. 1998/S.1381), ending the big cat pet and roadside zoo trade is a top priority for IFAW. Wild animals kept as backyard pets or in roadside zoo exhibits cannot escape a life of misery. Without a change in the law, first responders trained to protect human safety will continue to risk their lives confronting these dangerous wild animals after escapes or attacks.”
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.