Target: West Virginia Legislature
Goal: Commend Virginia legislature for passing protective exotic wildlife bill
The West Virginia legislature has passed a bill that would ban ownership of dangerous and exotic animals. The bill will ensure that qualified professionals meet national standards for husbandry and welfare, and impose much needed regulations in West Virginia, which has had considerably lax laws until this point. Commend the West Virginia legislature for taking appropriate action to outlaw exotic pet ownership.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, West Virginia is one of a handful of states with little to no laws about exotic and dangerous pet ownership. The lack of regulation has allowed repeated incidents of escaped and dangerous animals, and encouraged substandard, even neglectful care of exotic pets that had no protections from inhumane conditions.
Big cats, bears, alligators, and venomous snakes are among the animals kept as backyard pets and in roadside zoos in West Virginia. Yet this bill recommends banning ownership of these animals, protecting both them and human beings.
The passage of the law makes animal welfare a priority in a state that urgently needed to implement these measures. Exotic pets are among the most difficult to care for properly, and often subjected to inhumane conditions that cannot meet their needs when there is not enough regulation. They are also dangerous to their keepers; wild and undomesticated, exotic pets typically possess all their natural instincts and behaviors that may eventually lead to abandonment when they grow too difficult to care for.
Wild populations of animals both native and nonnative are also threatened by the exotic pet trade. Frustrated owners may release their animals into the ecosystem, where they can decimate or out-compete native populations, as is happening in Florida with escaped African rock pythons and other constrictors. The exotics trade fuels demand from wild populations, leading to poaching and removal of individuals from a species that is often endangered.
The West Virginia legislature’s passage of the bill is the right decision to prioritize animal welfare. It will ensure regulation of exotics ownership and increased welfare.
Dear West Virginia Legislature,
You recently passed a bill that would regulate ownership of exotic and dangerous animals. Such a bill would ensure that qualified professionals meet national standards for the care of exotics, and prohibits ownership of dangerous species. An established board will determine which animals to prohibit.
Exotics are difficult to care for, and often end up in sanctuaries or shelters, or are illegally released into the wild where they may destroy native populations or threaten human lives. The bill will take measures to reduce these incidents through stricter regulation. It is also the first step toward protecting exotics from neglectful treatment, and it will also take action to address the demands of the exotic pet trade on wild populations.
Thank you for making animal welfare a priority and introducing much-needed regulations in a state that has so far lacked them, and taking decisive action to address the plight of exotics.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Tartarus is a n00b via Wikimedia Commons