Expansion of dangerous animals list proposed

ALBANY — New York state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced on Thursday a new regulatory proposal to help protect the public and the state’s native fish and wildlife by expanding the list of animals regulated as “dangerous.”

According to the state, the proposed regulation also enhances DEC’s authority to implement licensing requirements that will ensure that dangerous animals held at facilities for exhibition purposes do not pose a threat to humans or other animals.

“DEC recognizes the appeal of seeing nature up close and learning more about some of the world’s diverse species, but these proposed standards are designed to protect the public and New York’s native wildlife populations from harm,” Seggos said in a news release. “These regulations will help further ensure public safety, protect indigenous species, and the well-being of the dangerous animals being sought for exhibition.”

These changes were prompted by a growing number of incidents involving dangerous animals that have posed a risk to public safety and the environment, including: DEC seizures of alligators, caimans, and other animals kept in inhumane conditions in Wappingers Falls; an individual airlifted to a hospital after being bitten by one of the approximately 150 vipers illegally in his possession; an escaped, and recaptured, anaconda in Suffolk County; and DEC seizures of more than 20 dangerous animals including vipers, cobras, rattlesnakes, anacondas, alligators, and caimans in Madison County.

DEC already regulates the possession of dozens of dangerous animals for exhibition purposes, including American alligators, caimans, venomous snakes, native bears, wolves, large cats (lion, tiger, leopard), large reptiles, and gorillas. With proper approvals in place, these animals can be owned by zoos, game farms, and other private facilities that allow public viewing, but not as pets.

The proposed regulation change expands the list of animals that pose a threat to public safety or indigenous wildlife to include the following species: serval, caracal, Eurasian lynx, and all other non-endangered or threatened felid species except domestic cats; arctic fox, swift fox, bat eared fox, and all other non-endangered or threatened canid species except domestic dogs and the fennec fox; squirrel monkey, common marmoset, capuchin monkeys, and all other non-endangered or threatened non-human primate species; Asian black bear, sun bear, spectacled bear; African forest elephant; dwarf caiman; wolverine; badgers; bats; skunks; and raccoons.

The proposed regulation also provides DEC with clear regulatory authority to implement current licensing requirements that will prevent dangerous animals held at private facilities for exhibition purposes from posing a threat. Under the changes, facilities that possess these animals would be allowed to keep the animals they currently possess. However, some facilities or individuals may not meet the proposed, new requirements of obtaining additional dangerous animals for exhibition purposes.

For more information visit the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov.

By Kerry Minor

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