Bill Would Prohibit Possession, Sale of Dangerous, Exotic Animals

July 30, 2015

A Republican lawmaker is seeking legislative support for a bill that would prohibit the personal possession, sale or breeding of dangerous, exotic animals in Wisconsin.

Lion Eating

The measure comes amid the ongoing search for a lion or other large cat in the Milwaukee area. And in another incident, Kenosha authorities recently removed five rattlesnakes, a crocodile, two alligators and a poisonous Gila monster from a house, according to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Van Wanggaard, of Racine.

Wisconsin is one of only five states that does not have a state law that regulates the possession of dangerous animals, Wanggaard said.

Under current law, individuals may not possess wild animals that are native to Wisconsin without a license from the Department of Natural Resources, except for animals like pigeons, chipmunks and mice. Veterinarians, and organizations like zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, research facilities, and circuses are exempt from the state licensing requirement.

But current state law doesn’t apply to possessing wild animals that are not native to Wisconsin unless they are endangered or threatened and native to the U.S. or Canada.

People would be prohibited from owning, selling or raising exotic animals, like lions, tigers, polar bears, gorillas, chimpanzees, brown bears, alligators and crocodiles under Wanggaard’s bill. People who currently possess an exotic animal would be allowed to keep them until the animals die, and certain groups and organizations like zoos and sanctuaries would be exempt from the prohibition, Wanggaard said.

The bill has support from the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Wisconsin Realtors Association, Wisconsin Animal Control Association, Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Wanggaard said.

Wanggaard’s bill is similar to one proposed last year by Republican Rep. Warren Petryk, of Eleva, but failed to get approval before the end of the last legislative session.