DEEP: DEEP and Beardsley Zoo Sponsoring Amnesty Day for Prohibited Exotic Animals

March 21, 2012
 
DEEP and Beardsley Zoo Sponsoring Amnesty Day for Prohibited Exotic Animals

Exotic animals that are illegal to own can be turned in at Beardsley Zoo on March 31 from 10:00 Am to 3:00 PM
 
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in cooperation with Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport will hold an Exotic Animal Amnesty Day at the zoo on March 31 to provide a convenient, safe, and “no questions asked” way for people to surrender exotic animals that are now illegal to own in Connecticut.  Animals that can be legally owned and purchased in a licensed pet store in Connecticut, such as ball pythons, red tail boa constrictors, birds, or iguanas will NOT be accepted.

The Amnesty Day will be held on Saturday March 31, 2012 from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM at Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport.  Owners of animals that are now illegal to possess should not release them beforehand and should hold them until Amnesty Day.

“New regulations that recently went into effect clarify which animals may be possessed by individuals and which animals may be kept by recognized zoos, nature centers and exhibitors for public viewing and educational purposes,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette.  “Because of this clarification, we want to give people who own animals that are now illegal to possess, such as alligators and anacondas, the opportunity to surrender them without fear of penalty.”

Animals must be brought in secure carriers and will become the property of DEEP.  All animals will be examined on site and referred for any necessary veterinary care.

For more information contact the DEEP Environmental Conservation Police at 860-424-3012 or dep.enconpolice@ct.gov.

Previous Amnesty Day

The DEEP last held an Amnesty Day on July 25, 2009, also at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.  135 animals were collected on that day including a number that were not illegal to possess but had become unmanageable for their owners.  During this next Amnesty Day, only illegal animals we be accepted.  Animals that can be legally owned and purchased in a licensed pet store in Connecticut will NOT be accepted.

Background on the New Wild Animal Regulations

In 2009, the Connecticut General Assembly charged DEEP with developing new regulations pursuant to Section 26-55 of the Connecticut General Statutes, affecting the importation, possession and liberation of wild animals in the state.  New regulations to meet this requirement have been enacted and went into effect March 5, 2012.

The regulations create four categories of animals with specific rules governing each category.
  • Category One includes those wild members within the Felidae (cat), Canidae (dog), Ursidae (bear) and Hominidae (large primate) families defined as potentially dangerous in state statute.  Under current law, possession of any of these animals is already limited only to facilities recognized as a zoo, public non-profit aquarium, nature center or museum, or exhibitors, laboratories or research facilities licensed by the US Department of Agriculture.
  • Category Two includes (but is not limited to) members of the Crocodylia family (alligators, crocodiles, caimans, etc), elephants, smaller primates, members of the hyena family, wallabies, kangaroos, and dangerous snakes such as cobras and pythons.  In addition to the facilities that may possess Category 1 wild animals, these animals may also be possessed by marine mammal parks, and by veterinarians for purposes of care and treatment.
  • Category Three includes an array of native wild animals like weasels, otters and great blue herons for which there is specific concern for their effects on other species or their own survival.  These regulations prohibit the importation but not possession of these animals and have a provision that allows schools to import these species in support of their educational programs.
  • Category Four includes all wild animals listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern under state law.  Although neither importation nor possession is prohibited, such acts would be subject to permits issued by DEEP.
The regulations also prohibit the liberation of any wild animal unless specifically authorized by DEEP.  The regulations will be available to be viewed in their entirety on the DEEP website soon.
 
The new regulations also allow persons who were in legal possession of a primate, weighing less than 35 pounds at maturity, as of October 1, 2003, to continue to possess that animal providing they adhere to provisions in the new regulations.

To view the new regulations, go to the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/prohibitedanimals .