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Ohio group proposes ban on owning exotic animals

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A study group on Monday proposed that Ohio ban new ownership of venomous snakes, monkeys, tigers and other dangerous animals with only limited exceptions and give state officials’ the authority to take from private property any wildlife that’s being kept illegally.

The group has held expedited meetings in private since last month, when police were forced to kill 48 wild animals, including endangered Bengal tigers, after their owner freed them from his Zanesville farm and then committed suicide.

A summary of the group’s input and state agencies’ recommendations for new regulations was obtained Monday by The Associated Press after the panel’s final meeting.

The working group’s recommendations for updating Ohio’s laws are due to the governor by Nov. 30. Its finalized report will be sent next week.

The group’s framework for legislation suggests the ban start on Jan. 1, 2014. Owners would have to meet new temporary safety standards before then and also register their animals with the state within 60 days of the law’s effective date. Zoos, circuses and research facilities would be exempt. Animal sanctuaries with restricted animals would have to be licensed and regulated by the state.

The panel’s recommendations are only suggestions to state lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich, a first-term Republican who convened the group in April to get their input. The members’ ideas and the recommendations from the Ohio Department of National Resources and state Department of Agriculture would have to be drafted into legislation, heard before committees and passed by the legislature before becoming law.

The office of state Sen. Troy Balderson, a Zanesville native, has said he would pursue legislation as soon as the working group made its recommendations.