1997 Regular Session
To: Game and Fish
By: Representative Ellzey
House Bill 1520
AN ACT TO CLASSIFY CERTAIN WILD ANIMALS AS INHERENTLY DANGEROUS TO HUMANS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE STRICT REGULATION OF SUCH ANIMALS; TO PROHIBIT THE POSSESSION OF SUCH ANIMALS; TO ALLOW PERSONS POSSESSING SUCH ANIMALS TO CONTINUE IF CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS ARE MET; TO REQUIRE PERMITS FOR SUCH ANIMALS; TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS; TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMISSION ON WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS TO ADMINISTER THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares that it is in the public interest to ensure the public health, safety and welfare by strictly regulating the importation, sale, transfer and possession of those wild animals inherently dangerous to humans. In addition, the Legislature finds that these wild animals may pose a threat of introducing disease that is harmful to humans and Mississippi's wildlife. The Legislature further finds and declares that wildlife inherently dangerous to humans may be possessed only as provided in this act. The importation, sale, transfer and possession of these wild animals are privileges that are not to be granted unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the privileges can be exercised in a manner that does not pose unnecessary risk to the citizens of this state and indigenous wildlife.
SECTION 2. For purposes of this act:
(a) "Commission" means the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
(b) "Department" means the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
(c) "Wild animal" means any wild animal classified as inherently dangerous to humans as provided in Section 3, House Bill No. ____, 1997 Regular Session.
SECTION 3. (1) The following wild animals are classed as animals inherently dangerous to humans:
(a) Order Primates:
(i) Family Pongidae (gibbons, orang-utan, chimpanzees, siamangs and gorillas) - all species;
(ii) Family Cercopithecidae:
A. Genus Macaca (macaques) - all species;
B. Genus Papio (mandrills, drills and baboons) - all species;
C. Theropithecus Gelada (Gelada baboon);
(b) Order Carnivora:
(i) Family Canidae:
A. Genus Canis (wolves, jackals and dingos); all species, including crosses between wolves and domestic animals;
B. Chrysocyon brachyurus (maned wolf);
C. Cuon alpinus (red dog);
D. Lycaon pictus (African hunting dog);
(ii) Family Ursidae (bears) - all species;
(iii) Family Mustelidae - Gulo gulo (wolverine);
(iv) Family Hyaenidae (hyenas) - all species;
(v) Family Felidae:
A. Genus Leo or Panthera or Neofelis (lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards) - all species;
B. Unica unica (snow leopard);
C. Acinonyx jubatus (cheetah);
D. Felis concolor (cougar) - all subspecies;
(c) Order Proboscidae: Family Elephantidae (elephants) - all species;
(d) Order Perissodactyla: Family Rhinocerotidae (rhinoceroses) - all species;
(e) Order Artiodactyla:
(i) Family Hippopotamidae - Hippopotamus amphibius (hippopotamus);
(ii) Family Bovidae: Syncerus caffer (African buffalo).
(2) The commission is specifically authorized to supplement the list of animals classed as inherently dangerous to humans.
SECTION 4. (1) (a) It is unlawful for a person to import, transfer, sell, purchase or possess any wild animal classified inherently dangerous by law or regulation unless that person holds a permit under paragraph (b) or is exempted under paragraph (c).
(b) (i) Any person who possesses a wild animal on May 1, 1997, may receive a fee-exempt temporary permit for that animal if the person applies by July 1, 1997. The temporary permit shall be valid until such time as the department notifies the person of the adoption of the regulations for wild animals and of the date the person must apply for an annual permit. After notification, the person shall apply for an annual permit.
(ii) A person must obtain a permit before that person takes possession of a wild animal. The applicant must comply with all the requirements of this act and the regulations promulgated by the commission to obtain the permit. Prior to the issuance of a permit, the applicant must provide proof of liability insurance in the amount of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) for each wild animal up to a maximum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00). An applicant shall have the burden of proving that any wild animals subject to this act are or will be imported, transferred, sold, purchased or possessed in compliance with this act and regulations.
(c) Public zoos, university research facilities, governmental agencies, transient circuses and rehabilitation and sanctuary facilities may be exempted from having a permit if the exemption is approved by the commission.
(d) Any permit issued under this act shall be valid for one (1) year and only for the species specified. A permit is required for each wild animal possessed. A permit for a female wild animal shall cover her progeny only while her progeny are physically dependant upon her or until her progeny are three (3) months old, whichever period is longer.
(2) (a) It is unlawful for any person to sell, transfer, deliver or give a wild animal classified as inherently dangerous to any other person unless the other person holds a permit for the wild animal or is exempt from holding a permit.
(b) Owners of unpermitted wild animals who do not qualify for a permit to possess the wild animal shall dispose of the wild animal according to law or regulation within thirty (30) days of notification by the department. Each day of possession of the unpermitted wild animal after the thirty-day period constitutes a separate violation.
SECTION 5. (1) The commission shall have the following powers and duties:
(a) To prescribe the forms and types of permits;
(b) To establish fees for each type of permit but no permit fee shall exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00);
(c) To establish qualifications for applicants and require the applicant to furnish any information it deems necessary;
(d) To supplement the list of wild animals inherently dangerous to humans;
(e) To exercise all powers necessary to implement a wild animal program.
(2) The commission shall specify by regulation the requirements for cages, facilities, handling, sanitation, veterinary care, food and water necessary for the welfare of the wild animals and to ensure the safety of the public.
SECTION 6. The department shall have the following powers and duties:
(a) To issue or deny permits required by law or regulation;
(b) To inspect and determine if the facilities, conditions and standards prescribed by law and regulation are sufficient for the safety of the public;
(c) To place conditions on a permit to ensure compliance; and
(d) To seize any wild animal possessed in violation of this act or regulations.
SECTION 7. (1) Any person possessing wild animals shall allow, at reasonable times and without a search warrant, the department to inspect all wild animals, facilities and records relating to the wild animals to ensure compliance.
(2) A permittee shall immediately notify the department and the local law enforcement agency of any escape of a wild animal.
SECTION 8. A violation of this act is a Class I violation and is punishable as provided in Section 49-7-141, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 9. Counties and municipalities may enact ordinances regulating or prohibiting the possession of wild animals if the ordinances are more stringent than this act or the regulations promulgated by the commission.
SECTION 10. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.