ACTION ALERT: Leland, NC

UPDATE: Thanks to an outpouring of opposition and education, the proposal was pulled from the agenda and the City will work on a new ordinance. Read an article about the decision at www.facebook.com/UnitedStatesAssociationOfReptileKeepers/posts/2265078176907456.

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Leland, North Carolina is proposing a ban on all reptile, amphibian, and mammal species which are non-native to the U.S., and also native species "ordinarily" found in the wild.

The hearing is Thursday, June 20 at 6:00 PM at the Leland Town Hall Council Chambers (102 Town Hall Dr.).

The ordinance will ban all "exotic or wild animals" which includes all species non-native to the U.S. The definition is:

Exotic or wild animal means an animal that would ordinarily be confined to a zoo, or one that would ordinarily be found in the wilderness of this or any other country; or one that is a species of animal not indigenous to the United States or to North America; or one that otherwise is likely to cause a reasonable person to be fearful of significant destruction of property or of bodily harm and the latter includes, but is not limited to, monkeys, raccoons, squirrels, ocelots, bobcats, wolves, hybrid wolves, venomous reptiles, constrictor snakes of the Boidae and Pythonidae species, and other such animals. Such animals are further defined as being those mammals or nonvenomous reptiles weighing over 50 pounds at maturity, which are known at law as ferae naturae. Exotic or wild animals specifically do not include animals of a species customarily used in the state as ordinary household pets, animals of a species customarily used in the state as domestic farm animals, fish confined in an aquarium other than piranha, birds, or insects.

The definition above is very poorly written. The ban will not apply only to animals over 50 pounds (although this weight is mentioned). The vagueness would allow animal control to enforce this upon all reptile owners. The only definite exceptions are aquarium fish (excluding piranhas), birds, insects, and domesticated species.

Other pets which will not be banned include only animals such as dogs, cats, cattle, horses, swine, fowl, sheep, and goats.

North Carolina already has a state law regarding large constrictor snakes, crocodilians, and venomous snakes:

Chapter 14 Article 55. Regulation of Certain Reptiles. www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/byarticle/chapter_14/article_55.html

Please educate the Town Council and city officials! It is obvious they have not been presented appropriate information to make educated decisions on this matter.

Among other poorly written lines we have this one:

species of animal not indigenous to the United States or to North America

The United States is a country within North America. Obviously, a species not native to North America will also be not native to the U.S. If they intended to ban all species not indigenous to North America, then just state that without mentioning the U.S. This is just bad language choice and a failure to properly scrutinize even the basic verbiage of the proposal.

Article on this matter: www.wect.com/2019/06/17/leland-town-council-expected-vote-favor-banning-popular-pet-snakes/

What To Do
(Remember to be civil and professional at all times!)

Attend the hearing!

Animal owners need to educate city officials and properly inform them about the overreaching and illogical nature of this proposal.

Hearing: Thursday, June 20 at 6:00 PM at the Leland Town Hall Council Chambers (102 Town Hall Dr.)

 

Email addresses for Town Council members:

 

Sample email/letter

Leland Town Council members,

As a responsible exotic animal owner, I implore you to reconsider your blanket ban on all "exotic and wild animals." I can only imagine that this proposal did not receive adequate research. For example, 1 in every 20 households in the U.S. has an exotic pet reptile. Exotic reptile pets increase in popularity each year as they are far more suitable pets for many people than dogs and cats might be. They pose no public safety risks and are highly misunderstood by many people.

Popular reptile pet species which will be banned include Greek tortoises, leopard geckos, bearded dragons, ball pythons, sand boas, and hundreds more. Additionally, amphibian species like red-eyed tree frogs, Pac-Man frogs, axolotl salamanders, and others will be banned. The animals are bred in the U.S. by dedicated keepers.

Please work with some experts and stakeholders to become aware of all the unintended consequences of this proposal. It is poorly worded and clarifications need to be made. While it could be argued this ordinance only applies to animals over 50 pounds, then why are species which cannot get anywhere close to 50 pounds listed as specific examples?

Additionally, North Carolina already has a state law which regulates constrictor snakes, crocodilians, and venomous snakes. It also punishes irresponsible keepers. It is Chapter 14, Article 55 of State code titled "Regulation of Certain Reptiles" and can be read at www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/byarticle/chapter_14/article_55.html.

Please refuse the proposal and amend the language. Do not make a bad decision for Leland. Thank you for your time and have a good day.

Sincerely

[YOUR NAME]