Senate backs bill on exotic animals
CHARLESTON – The Senate has approved legislation to prohibit the sale and ownership of wild and dangerous animals like bears, large cats, constricting snakes and alligators.
Sen. Ronald Miller said the Wild Dangerous Animal Act allows the commission of Agriculture to establish permits and fees to register wild animals currently living in captivity. It also exempts zoos and veterinary hospitals.
Violators could expect up to $2,000 in fines for each animal.
Miller said West Virginia is one of only six states without a similar law.
Sen. Dave Sypolt questioned whether West Virginia needs the law if federal law already prevents ownership of such animals.
Sypolt said only eight incidents involving dangerous wild animals have occurred in the state in 16 years. The House must now approve changes to the bill.