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Exotic pets are becoming pests for Game Commission 11/02/08

 
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Cougardaville
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:39 pm    Post subject: Exotic pets are becoming pests for Game Commission 11/02/08 Reply with quote

Exotic pets are becoming pests for Game Commission
Sunday, November 02, 2008
By Deborah Weisberg
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is called about hundreds of mountain lion and hybrid wolf sightings every year, but few lead to an animal's capture.

"The animal's there and then it isn't," said agency spokesman Jerry Feaser. "A lot are cases of mistaken identify, or a hoax, like that cougar attack in Lancaster County last week."

In that case, a farmer claimed to have shot one cougar and was attacked by another, but evidence of the alleged attack couldn't be confirmed. The Game Commission is considering filing "false report" charges.

Other cases, though, may involve exotic pets that return to their owner, said Feaser. "We had a case in York County where someone cut the padlock off a mountain lion's cage. When we got there, the cat was sitting on the owner's porch."

Hybrid wolves and big cats are by far the most common exotics the commission regulates, but few species are off-limits if a potential owner can prove he has at least two years experience handling the kind of animal he wants to keep, and can provide for its care. Township ordinances take precedence, and vary across the state.

And while permitted exotics may number "in the hundreds if not thousands," according to Jason DeCoskey, chief of the commission's exotic permitting enforcement, there may be just as many illegally possessed big cats, wolf hybrids and other species whose health status and origins are uncertain.

"Many are purchased in Ohio," DeCoskey said. "You can buy anything and everything there and you can get a grizzly bear cub or lion cub for a couple of hundred dollars."

Jill Herring of the independent, family-owned Woodland Zoo in Farmington agrees. She received some of her big cats from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which confiscated them from previous owners. The animals include a Siberian white tiger that had attacked its owner in Ohio, she said. "Big cats are a big problem. There are many, many cats without permits."

Hybrid wolves also keep the Game Commission busy, and shelling out money it could be spending on other programs.

"When we find out someone is selling wolf hybrid pups, we have to investigate," DeCoskey said. "We have to get the pup DNA-tested, which costs about $800. Usually, we find it's just a dog someone is trying to pass off for a lot more money. In most cases, they don't have the proper permits."

The Game Commission would rather not regulate non-domesticated, non-farm animals owned by hobbyists, dealers and small zoos. But the agency has failed to convince state lawmakers to reassign the duty to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

"You look at where our funding comes from -- hunters and trappers -- yet our officers spend a good bit of their time processing paperwork for exotics, or conducting inspections," DeCoskey said. "We're almost like a pet industry when it comes to this stuff. We'd be happy if another agency took this over."

Even deer in "high fence" hunting compounds regulated by the Department of Agriculture become the Game Commission's problem when they escape or are released into the wild.

"We had to euthanize three Sika deer in the woods around Harrisburg last year after their owner opened their pen and set them free," said Feaser. "We couldn't have them mingling with native whitetails."

There is always the concern that "high fence" deer may have been illegally imported from other states and could carry Chronic Wasting Disease, which could spread into the wild, DeCoskey said. "It wouldn't take much ... a fence blowing down on a windy day."

The commission is trying to tighten regulations on ownership of exotics. Effective January, new regulations will prohibit wildlife rehabilitators from obtaining new permits to possess multiple exotics, in an effort to prevent the spread of disease.

"We'd like to extend that to taxidermists and others who handle animal fluids and parts," said DeCoskey. "It's all about protecting our native resources."

And while the Pennsylvania Game Code was amended this year to clarify the ban on primates, DeCoskey said legislators need to go further. "The list in the Code is too vague," he said.

Fines for illegal possession typically amount to a couple of hundred dollars, but finding unpermitted exotics is the real problem, DeCoskey said. "Our officers have stumbled across drug dealers who keep big cats for protection. But, more often, it takes a tip from a disgruntled spouse or neighbor."

And placing confiscated animals isn't as easy as it once was, since many zoos now demand solid paper trails.

"We have a network of wildlife rescue facilities we can go to," DeCoskey said. "Thank God for that."
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This just makes me so happy that my state borders PA. Rolling Eyes

Maybe that over sized bear I saw a few years ago, that looked more like a Kodiak than a black bear, wasn't a black bear after all...... Shocked

The stuff that nightmares are made of....

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember when I was a kid we was always out and about. Me and my cousin road horse all over, played in the woods and made forts. Now I don't even like my kids out in the yard by themselves. You just never know what is out there!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take some time and do some searches for the area you are in, look for rescues, sanitaries and zoo's. Then look at what animals they keep.

Look at the overall condition of the facility...do you feel it is well kept, safe and are the animals being properly cared for Question

Ask what there policy is if a animal escapes Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last year I made a tour of sanctuaries, rescues and zoo's. I saw Soooo many mountain lions. I asked the same question to each owner, "What is the story with this cat? And why do some have kittens Question

None of them gave me good answers Shocked Exclamation Rolling Eyes

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"We had to euthanize three Sika deer in the woods around Harrisburg last year after their owner opened their pen and set them free," said Feaser. "We couldn't have them mingling with native whitetails."


Wrong they didn't euthanize three Sitka Deer and the owner didn't set them free. Here is what is on the PGC website about that incident.



Quote:
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials today announced that the search for a third, male Formosan sika deer that escaped from a Harrisburg area property was found dead not far from the owner's home.

"Upon examination, we were unable to determine the cause of death," said Dauphin County Wildlife Conservation Officer Michael Doherty. "There were no bullet holes, and no signs of trauma from a possible vehicle collision."
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a controversy to me.

Lotta that goin' round.......

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