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Bill would tighten rules for owning wild animals

PETA agrees higher animal welfare standards are needed

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By Mary Kuhlman

An Indiana lawmaker wants to rein in owners of dangerous animals in the state. Senate Bill 226, proposed by Senator Michael Crider (R-Greenfield), would require all owners of what are known as "Class Three" animals, such as bears or tigers, to abide by state regulations. Crider says currently, exhibitors and breeders of these animals who have a federal permit are exempt from Indiana regulations.

"My experience as a conservation officer shows that these things often went bad, and they continue to go bad," says Crider. "One of the reasons is there's not adequate oversight. My bill asks for the state permit, which would require an annual inspection."

Crider says the goal is to ensure all animals are contained and kept under proper and safe conditions. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and Crider expects a hearing in the next week or two.

Brittany Peet, deputy director of captive animal law enforcement with PETA, says animal dealers and exhibitors are not subject to the animal welfare standards that accredited zoos and sanctuaries must abide by. She adds, animals are often exploited, and stronger protections are needed.

"The overpopulation of tigers and bears in seedy, roadside zoos across the country has created a problem so severe that, while tigers in the wild are endangered, tigers in captivity are actually worth more dead than alive," she says.

Crider has proposed similar legislation in the past two years, but the bills never made it out of committee.

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