The American Bar Association (ABA)—a professional organization consisting of nearly 400,000 legal practitioners and other members—recently adopted a resolution in support of laws banning “possession, sale, breeding, import, or transfer of dangerous wild animals, such as big cats, bears, wolves, primates, and dangerous reptiles.”
ABA’s House of Delegates, at the recommendation of the Association’s Animal Law Committee, formalized the resolution to “to protect public safety and health, and to ensure the humane treatment and welfare of such animals.”
The ABA’s position on the private ownership of captive exotic animals is telling with respect to the growing understanding that big cats and other wild animals are not pets, and that private ownership in the U.S. has led to serious animal welfare, human safety, and international conservation concerns.
It also acknowledges—citing multiple dangerous incidents involving privately-owned big cats, including fatal and near-fatal maulings—that “[e]ach year privately owned dangerous wild animals seriously injure or kill humans, including children….In addition to the danger to public safety and the animals themselves, dangerous wild animals can cause harm to other animals and disrupt ecosystems.”
The report emphasizes the lack of uniformity among state laws, the absence of adequate restrictions and reporting requirements, and a dramatic shortfall in federal oversight among the many reasons that captive exotics in America have emerged as a crisis.
Notably, the Committee’s suggestions for the development of new or enhanced statutory safeguards—including tightly restricting possession, breeding, sales and transfers of exotic pets and carefully regulating grandfathered owners—are consistent with an IFAW-supported federal billthat was introduced during the last Congress and supported by more than 100 bipartisan members of Congress.
As the 114th Congress settles in, we are actively working to ensure that, as the ABA proposed, the nation’s captive wildlife legislation evolves to address the pressing animal welfare, public safety, and conservation challenges associated with private ownership across the United States.
For more information about IFAW legislative efforts for animals, visit our campaign page.
Read more at NationofChange.