CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — State officials want to ensure West Virginians aren’t making pets out of animals better suited for Africa than Appalachia.
State regulators are responding to a 2011 Ohio release of wild animals by determining what types of wildlife will be illegal for people to own. A draft list in the works.
Residents who already have soon-to-be-illegal creatures won’t lose them if they follow a new permitting process.
In 2011, an eastern Ohio man released 56 animals from his farm before he committed suicide. They included black bears, mountain lions and Bengal tigers. Fearing for the public’s safety, authorities killed 48 of the animals.
Penalties for illegally owning an animal would range as low as $200. Penalties can reach $5,000 and three years in prison if a released animal hurts someone.