Ohio puts more tigers, bears, exotic snakes under lockdown

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – Ohio is again cracking down on exotic animals, telling owners who don’t yet have permits for their tigers, snakes and other wild creatures to put them under quarantine until the state can decide whether they should be removed.

The state sent out the orders this week to seven exotic animal owners who have failed to get a permit under a law that took effect at the beginning of 2014.

Ohio’s agriculture department told the owners that they were not allowed to move or sell the animals until a decision is reached. Only the owners or their employees will be allowed to come into contact with the animals, but they must continue to feed and take care of them, the state said.

Ohio has been tightening regulations on owners of big cats and other creatures since a suicidal man in eastern Ohio released dozens of his animals, including African lions and Bengal tigers, on his farm in 2011.

Among the animals now locked down under this week’s order are 10 bears, seven tigers, two monkeys, a bobcat and an alligator.

The owner of nearly 150 rattlesnakes, cobras and vipers told the state after receiving the order that he had gotten rid of the snakes, said Erica Hawkins, a department spokeswoman.

Some of the owners have been responsive to earlier warnings sent by the state while others have not been in contact with the department, she said.

The notified owners are in Belmont, Clark, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Marion, Montgomery and Preble counties, the department said.

Two other owners who didn’t get permits by the deadline are fighting the state in court to keep their animals.

Kenny Hetrick asked a judge last week to order the immediate return of 10 animals to his sanctuary near Toledo.

The state removed those animals in late January after denying Hetrick a permit to keep them and saying there were concerns that the cages and fencing at the property could allow some of them to escape.

The owners of a 41-year-old caged black bear in northeast Ohio have a pending civil case against the state. They’ve said they weren’t adequately notified about the law, and that moving or tranquilizing the bear named Archie would threaten his life.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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