W.Va. to restrict ownership of exotic animals

CHARLESTON (AP) — Private owners of tigers or lions would need to obtain a permit to continue housing their animals in West Virginia under legislation heading to the governor’s desk.

Both the House and the Senate approved the bill during the final day of legislative action Saturday. The bill delays enforcement until 2013 by requiring the Department of Natural Resources to write rules that would identify which animals require permits and whether zoos and animal sanctuaries would be exempt.

The bill defines exotic animals as those that pose a physical or biological threat to humans, livestock or native wildlife.

Pet owners fear the law would apply to small critters like hamsters and parrots. Owners can weigh in during the rule-writing process and when the legislature reviews the rules next January.

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