Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Lawmakers duck action on exotic species

It’s easy to tell when it’s an election year. Elected officials avoid doing anything that might be the slightest bit controversial.

Case in point: the West Virginia Legislature. Tasked with creating a law to regulate exotic animals within the state, they did the predictable thing — punt the political football to the Division of Natural Resources.

From the Associated Press:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Delegates have slowed enforcement of proposed exotic animal restrictions by requiring the Division of Natural Resources to write rules specifying which animals would be regulated.
After hearing from upset pet owners, House Judiciary committee members became concerned Wednesday that small pets like turtles, parrots and gerbils would be covered under the bill. The bill states that exotic animals to be regulated must be physically or biologically dangerous to humans, livestock and West Virginia wildlife.
The rule-writing process allows for public comment and would require the Legislature’s final approval of regulations next winter before the law could be enforced. It would also give the DNR more time to determine which animals would require permits and to set fees.
Prior versions of the bill banned specific animals like snow leopards and lions.