The West Virginia Dangerous Wild Animal Board met yesterday, July 30, to discuss a list of animals to put on its potential banned animal list.
The board released a new list; you can find it by clicking here.
A new set of proposed fees has also been released. The new fees include $150 for mammals, $100 for non-snake reptiles, $50 snakes and no fee for any animal not covered in mammal, reptile or snake.
The application would still carry a $10 fee per applicant.
The Dangerous Wild Animal Board has released a revised list of recommended banned animals. They say the list is still subject to changes and they have another meeting set for July 30 at 1:00 p.m. at theGuthriee Agricultural Complex in Charleston, West Virginia.
Note: Sentences or words that have been crossed with a line are being taken out of the revised list. Sentences or words that are underlined are being added to the revised list.
A subcommittee of West Virginia's Dangerous Wild Animal Board met Wednesday morning in South Charleston, WV to make significant changes to their proposed list. They also clarified the guidance for caging requirements and lowered some of the registration fees.
The moves come toward the end of a public comment period. The board received hundreds of public comments and made an effort to address those concerns.
Kieran O'Malley is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. He is part of the Technical Committee and lead the group that developed the original list. He said the revisions discussed Wednesday make the list more detailed and less comprehensive. O'Malley and the members of the board said they hope the changes will alleviate confusion and ease the fears of pet owners.
"The first attempt went a little too far," O'Malley said. "We actually put a fine microscope on it and tried to pick out species that really concerned us."
O'Malley said most of the public comments focused on exotic cats, sugar gliders, reptiles and aquarium fish.
Sugar gilders, turtles, hedgehogs, hamsters, most small fish and many other popular pets have been removed from the list.
"There was panic and a lot of confusion too. You know the language was confusing for a lot of folks. Especially folks that were keeping domestic animals like rats, rabbits, livestock and things like that. They thought those animals were included. They are not. But hopefully this clears things up," O'Malley said.
While the meeting was open to the public, fewer than ten people were at the meeting at the Division of Natural Resources office in South Charleston. One of the people who attended was Ron Lanham with Specialty Pets in Nitro, WV. The pet shop has been at the forefront of fighting back against the original proposed list of dangerous and wild animals. He called the revision a victory.
"We've got almost all of the aquarium trade fish off the list. It looks really good," Lanham said. "The public comment actually did work."
Even with the vast changes there was some debate among members of the subcommittee. O'Malley said despite comments from the public, it is important for Quaker Parakeets to remain on the list because of the potential danger they pose to the environment. He said if they are turned loose or escape they can damage the local infrastructure. O'Malley said the birds have been known to nest in traffic lights and transformers. The committee decided to revisit that debate at a later time. They'll also revisit discussions about certain snails at a later time.
The committee also spent a great deal of time discussing snakes. They agreed that constricting snakes and venomous snakes should stay on the list including anacondas and pythons.
The revised list is modeled after Ohio's list. But that list only included mammals and snakes. Ohio's list did not address amphibians, birds and fish. O'Malley also often cited the Federal Injurious Wildlife List. O'Malley said to help the public better understand why certain animals were on the list he clarified if they were a danger to health, wildlife or the environment.
The committee decided that they would base the caging requirements for the restricted animals on the guidelines presented by the Zoological Association of America.
They also agreed to propose changes to the registration fees for exotic pets. Initially it had been suggested that owners of restricted pets would have to pay $100 annually per pet. Wednesday the committee agreed to recommend that the board make changes. People with large mammals will still have to pay $100 annually. The fee for reptiles would be $50 per pet. There will be no fee for amphibians, birds, fish or snails. But everyone who registers pets will have to pay a $10 application fee. That fee is per application, not per animal.
Committee members said the money will be used to pay for "incident response" should there be a situation where animals escape. They decided to lower the fees to encourage more people to register their animals. Committee members said it was more important to get a list of the restricted animals that are in the state, than to collect a large sum of money.
Committee members said the registration fees and application process only apply to pets that are already owned. Once the restricted animal dies, the applicant would not be allowed to purchase a replacement of that specific type of animal. They would have to let the board know when the animal dies.
They also discussed ways that pets could be labeled and identified but did not agree on specifics at the meeting.
The public comment period is open until August 1st at 12 p.m. Public comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent through the mail to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E, Charleston, WV 25305.
The subcommittee that met Wednesday will present their proposed revisions to the entire board July 30 at 1 p.m. at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture complex in Guthrie.
The next step after that would be for the Legislative Rule Making Review Committee to consider the document during an upcoming interim session.
The list would then be considered by the full legislature during the regular session early next year.