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 Ohio Ban Not Being Enforced

COLUMBUS -- State officials are not enforcing a temporary ban on new exotic pet ownership implemented by outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland.

Instead, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, at the request of Gov. John Kasich’s administration, is studying the issue to determine how to protect Ohioans while not hurting businesses.

"He’s very much aware of the hardship this would create for small businesses and the owners of the species that are on the list but also is aware of the sensitivity of the intent of the executive order," said Laura Jones, ODNR spokeswoman. "We’re going to do our best to get this worked out, hammered out, and be fair to all parties."

In one of his last official actions before leaving office, Strickland signed an emergency executive order banning new ownership of wild or exotic animals, including alligators, bears, gray wolves and pythons.

Under the terms of the order, existing owners would be allowed to keep their animals, though they would have to register with the state by May 1 of this year and annually thereafter.

The executive order gave the ODNR the authority to move forward with rules prohibiting the private ownership of wild animals.

The executive order stemmed from an agreement he helped to broker between the Humane Society of the United States and major farm groups to keep an animal welfare issue off of the November ballot.

Kasich was supportive of the order initially, telling reporters at the time, "We don’t want exotic animals here where somebody’s bringing something in and then some neighbor gets hurt. So we’ll look at it. It sounds reasonable, but let me just take a look at it. I would be inclined to say we should continue it."

But the new administration slowed the rules-filing process after hearing concerns from business owners. According to information posted on the ODNR Web site, " Gov. Kasich is aware that there are questions and concerns by the public and small business owners regarding the emergency rules. As such, it was the opinion of the administration that the filing of permanent rules with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review be postponed. This decision will allow for a thorough review and evaluation of the issues involved, and provides time for input from all affected parties."_

Additionally, the state agency does not have authority to enforce the ban on some species, Jones said.

"Our standpoint is, right now, that this is not something we’re enforcing," she said. "There are questions of authority clearly with some of these (species)."

She added, "There are many facets to this. If it was enforced at this very moment, it would hurt small businesses. You would have people who have no mechanism for properly permitting or they would be in violation. We can’t do that, to force something on them that quickly, so we’re trying to come up with a common sense approach on how to proceed."

ODNR expects to forward recommendations for potential rules in 30- 45 days.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. E-mail him at or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.,0

02/16/11  02:12pm

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