Last week Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey informed Iowans of the steps being taken by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to implement the provisions of a bill passed by the Iowa Legislature this year regulating "dangerous wild animals."
The bill, Senate File 564, prohibits Iowans from owning or possessing a dangerous wild animal, the breeding of a dangerous wild animal, and makes it illegal to transport a regulated animal into the state. The legislation does allow current owners of dangerous wild animals to continue to own the animal if they meet several guidelines. One requirement is that owners must also have a $100,000 liability insurance policy for the animal with a deductible that does not exceed $250.
Owners must obey certain rules
"The Iowa Legislature spoke in passing this bill that the public should have more protections from these animals and the Department is now trying to act to make sure we enforce the legislation in accordance with the legislature's intent," Northey said.
Current owners can keep their animals if they, among other things, are 18 years or older, have never been accused of animal neglect, has not had a permit or license revoked to operate an establishment that sells or breeds animals, has not been convicted of a felony or drug offense in the last 10 years, has the animal implanted with an electronic ID device by August 29, 2007, and registers the animal with IDALS by December 31, 2007.
A number of individuals and organizations are exempted from the law. Exemptions include accredited or certified zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, person issued a falconry license by DNR, assistive animals, a person who owns an animal as an agricultural animal, facilities licensed by USDA, circuses, the Iowa State Fair, research facilities, veterinaries, animal shelters, animal wardens and others. A complete list is included in the legislation.
Violators subject to fine
To cover the costs of regulating the animals, the Department is allowed to charge an annual registration fee.
A person who violates this Chapter is subject to a civil penalty of not less than $250 and not more than $2,000 for each violation. A person who intentionally causes a dangerous wild animal to escape is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.
A provision in Senate File 601, the Standings Bill, amended these provisions to include Russian or European boars as "dangerous wild animals."
A full copy of the bill can be found on the Iowa Legislature's website at www.legis.state.ia.us. Questions can also be directed to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at 515-281-5321.