Ohio to eliminate panels on wild animal ownership

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio is eliminating two state panels created to help regulate ownership of dangerous wild animals after a suicidal man released lions, tigers and other creatures at his farm in 2011.

The Dangerous and Restricted Animals Advisory Board and the Dangerous Wild Animals State Emergency Response Commission will be discontinued Feb. 20, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The panels were implemented as part of the state’s Dangerous Wild Animal Act passed in 2012. The law followed national outcry over a police decision to kill 49 animals that 62-year-old Terry Thompson released from his Zanesville farm before taking his own life.

The advisory board reviewed rules and recommended changes for private animal ownership, while the commission oversaw local plans for managing the escape of wild animals.

Sen. Troy Balderson, a Republican from Zanesville, served on the advisory board. He said both panels have accomplished their goals.

“We have everything in place, and we feel it’s time to sunset it,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture handles permitting and enforcement and keeps confiscated animals at a building in Reynoldsburg.

The number of permits and related animals decreased from 64 permits and 218 animals in 2014 to 40 permits and 155 animals today, according to the agriculture department.

The department said most of the 230 animals confiscated from owners have been relocated to sanctuaries and that it currently has no animals at its Reynoldsburg site.

Dennis Summers, head of the agriculture department’s dangerous wild-animal program, said the public is “unequivocally safer” now than they were before 2011.