West Virginia on its way toward becoming less wild, more wonderful
UPDATED 3.26.14: Great news! The bill was signed into law on March 21!
West Virginia may be on its way toward ending its history of being one of six states without any restrictions on big cats and other exotics in private hands!
Late last week, the West Virginia legislature passed the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (House Bill 4393, Del. Randy Swartzmiller (D-1)) with overwhelming support.
This long-overdue initiative prohibits private ownership of dangerous wild animals. Specifically, the bill includes an emphasis on phasing out future ownership of big cats, bears, primates, venomous and constrictor snakes, and alligators; creates 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.
IFAW was honored to work on the bill in coalition with amazing partners: The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). We celebrate this victory with them, and we commend the West Virginia legislature for this tremendous step forward for animal welfare and public safety in West Virginia.
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.
If you are a West Virginia resident, please ask Governor Tomblin to sign the bill into law today!
For more information about our efforts to protect big cats, visit ifaw.org/bigcatadvocates