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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 04-25-2008, 06:47 AM   #1
City calls emergency meeting to consider exotic animal ban in Burton

It looks like another town will do a knee jerk ban of exotics because of what looks like an incident from one alligator. I have included the replies from some of the readers at the end interesting to say the least.


City calls emergency meeting to consider exotic animal ban in Burton

by Elizabeth Lowe | The Burton News
Thursday April 24, 2008, 11:49 AM
BURTON, Michigan -- Alligators, venomous snakes and poisonous spiders aren't welcome in the city, but it could take a while to show them the door.

That's the word from the city's legislative committee, which met in special session Wednesday after receiving reports of an alligator in a DeCamp Street house.

Committee members recommended adopting a proposed ordinance to ban keeping exotic, dangerous or out-of-the-ordinary household pets.

If approved, the city would be required to give the owner of a banned animal 10 days to remove the animal from the home. The owner could additionally be required to show proof of where the animal was taken after leaving the home.

The proposed ordinance also bans releasing banned animals into the wild.

"I'd hate to see an alligator in Kelly Lake or Thread Creek," said Councilwoman Ellen Ellenburg, a legislative committee member.

The legislation excludes fowl, ferrets and "small rodents of varieties used for laboratory purposes" and makes an exception for accredited zoos or aquariums, wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, circuses and legitimate scientific, medical or educational research facilities.

Species of animals not native to Michigan aren't regulated by state or federal government.

It's up to cities and townships to write laws to protect residents against living near species that may be considered dangerous, said Lt. Ron Utt, DNR district law supervisor.

Federal regulations apply to endangered species, but have special rules applying to specific varieties and where they originated, said Dan Sheill, a special agent for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services in Ann Arbor. Federal rules also regulate bringing certain species across state lines without a permit.

Violating the proposed ordinance could be a civil infraction, requiring the violator to answer to a judge and potentially pay fines and fees.

Now the City Council must twice approve the legislation and publish the ordinance before it takes effect.

That could mean waiting until early June.

Councilwoman Laurie Tinnin, who chairs the legislative committee, said she hopes to persuade Council President Tom Martinbianco to set a special council meeting to speed along the process.

There's an alternative to following the steps enacting an ordinance, said City Attorney Richard Austin: Instituting circuit court nuisance abatement proceedings.

"You would have to prove the existing alligator constitutes a nuisance," said Austin, who said the process likely wouldn't be speedier unless the animal inflicted an injury.

In the case of the DeCamp Street home, the ordinance could be a moot point.

Jennifer Watson, a resident of the DeCamp Street home in question, said Tuesday the alligator is not kept there. A male, who would not give his name, said he owns the animal, which he describes as a 33.5-inch fresh water alligator. The male said he is not living in the home.

****** Readers Remarks follow *****************

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COMMENTS (7)Post a comment
Posted by open2opine on 04/24/08 at 3:34PM
This should be a no-brainer. Fresh water alligators under the car of any citizen without proper licensing (i.e. a zoo) do not belong in Michigan. What do people plan on doing with the gator when it outgrows its habitat or the owner can't afford to keep it fed anymore. Non-indigenous creatures such as an alligator would devastate the natural balance of fish and other aquatic life in a lake in one summer. Not to mention the swimming hazard it creates. Exotic animals that could potentially be released into the 'wild' around here are no good for anyone, let alone the creature. I hope to see a ban and I don't even live in Burton.

Inappropriate? Alert us. Post a commentPosted by xeileen916x on 04/24/08 at 4:52PM
Michigan temperatures get so cold in the winters that most all non-native species would not survive them, and therefore cause little disturbance to native wildlife, if any. Bans on exotics is a violation of our rights as americans. Exotics owners are not proposing bans on domestics which in fact are more of a public threat considering the over 300,000 bites a year to the public. In the very few instances where a large exotic has injury, most were to the owners themsleves, or in USDA facilities such as zoos which would be exempt from this ban either way. The threat to the public regarding exotics is almost non-existant in the private sector. Most states already have regulations in place regarding private exotic animal ownership & required caging in order to keep both animals and the public safe. Instead of outright bans, Burton should consider permitting and heavy fines for releasing non-native species into the wild. Burton is proposing this legislation in the case of, not that there is actually a big problem. The cost of this ordinance coupled with the undue hardship on current owners who would have to give up their animals, most likely to be euthanized, is completely unwarranted.

Inappropriate? Alert us. Post a commentPosted by katladysam on 04/24/08 at 5:41PM
As the Director of a non-profit sanctuary and educational facility I will say that 'bans' such as this are becoming our bane! Do cities, counties and states believe that our pockets are automatically filled with money to take these animals in? What is a full time job caring for the animals is compounded by the fact that we are always having to be involved in time consuming fund-raising. Many sanctuaries go out of existance each year because they can no longer support themselves. And the animals go where? To another sanctuary or they are needlessly destroyed. PLEASE... if you must address this situation enact reasonable regulations regarding an animals' proper husbandry.

Inappropriate? Alert us. Post a commentPosted by mzdee1 on 04/24/08 at 9:42PM
First of all i would like to KNOW , WHY anyone would want to own a POISIONOUS SNAKE to begin with?? And SECOND of all, We need MORE RESTRICTIONS on this. When you see what has happened in FLORIDA, you will understand, they have people turning Pytons and other snakes that are not native to the State, and now they are over taking the enviorment and destroying the natural species. It is not only dangerous, but it is ruining natures balance. I am not one for regulating the internet, however when it comes to Dangerous, venomous reptiles and snakes being sold via the web, I think we need to seriously think just what we need to protect the safety of the public. At least look into closing those types of businesses from selling to the U.S.

Inappropriate? Alert us. Post a commentPosted by jacobsmith on 04/24/08 at 11:13PM
I cannot see the logic in making this retroactive. Just ban them, require people to register current pets, and anyone caught with an animal not registered already after 30 days have passed could be fined. No one has to give up a pet, no one hates the Council, and the problem is solved in time.

But hey, Burton does have a balanced budget, so I am not going to talk too badly about them.

Inappropriate? Alert us. Post a commentPosted by ericssnakes on 04/25/08 at 1:08AM
Michigan's climate is a far cry from South Florida, don't you think mzdee1? An exotic reptile originally from the old world tropics quite simply cannot survive, and much less reproduce, in the 20 to 30 degree averages Burton experiences during winter. There are no exotic reptiles breeding and thriving in Michigan. Please read up on basic reptilian biology.
As for this topic in general, There are statistically more people who are struck by lightning, kicked by horses, or etc. Why don't we ban horses? Theres a bunch more statistics like that on the REXANO site that show exotic pets are an almost non existant threat to the public. It seems to me that too many people fear what they do not understand (this case reptiles), making it all too easy for them to vote for uninformed legislation like this.

Inappropriate? Alert us. Post a commentPosted by hankz40 on 04/25/08 at 1:20AM
re you kidding me? An emergency meeting? Well I guess they needed something else to sink thier teeth into, pardon the pun, since the cat licensing went out the window. Who is going to determine what is "dangerous and/or an out-of the-ordinary" pet? To the people of the City of Burton, you must get rid of all your pets. They all have teeth or a beak, can bite, and draw blood....therefore they are dangerous. Please note my sarcasm. Come and try to get my piranha. Since members of board need a new hobby, I'll make sure he hasn't eaten in several days when you come and try to remove him. Apparently you need some work. Members of the board, take a field trip to a pet store and price out the cost of a Cayman. Instead let me help you. I don't want you wasting any more of my tax money. A juvenile Cayman was running over $200 at an Oakland County pet store last weekend. They aren't cheap. How much money is this going to cost in the long run and who is going to monitor it? If there will be a position open with an annual salary over $100,000 let me know, because this task is insurmountable. And Kat brings up a good point, what is the city going to do with all the banned animals? Open a pet store to resell them to people outside the city??? Next time, thing things through. But obviously you didn't learn that lesson when you wanted to license cats either..
Old 05-07-2008, 06:29 AM   #2
Additional - Burton might put bite on exotic animals as pets

Burton might put bite on exotic animals as pets
by Ashley A. Smith | The Flint Journal
Tuesday May 06, 2008, 12:17 PM
BURTON -- Don't bring your pet alligator or wolf dog to Burton.

The City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to a proposed ban on "exotic, dangerous or undomesticated animals found in the wilderness" following reports of a wolf dog and an alligator being kept as pets in the city.

No longer allowed would be raccoons, skunks, wolves and wolf-dog hybrids. Poisonous spiders and insects, venomous reptiles and cold-blooded animals capable of inflicting injury also would be banned.

A state law already puts restrictions on keeping some animals, but the city's proposal goes further.

"Before there was nothing on record for dealing with exotic animals," said Councilwoman Laurie Tinnin.

Some say, however, that the City Council is barking up the wrong tree.

The state law should be enough, said Kelly Arnott, whose pet Jasmine was taken last week because of allegations it is part wolf, part dog.

But Jasmine was returned to the family Monday because tests showed it is a husky, malamute, chinook and German shepherd mix, Arnott said.

The proposed ordinance passed its first reading 5-2, with Councilmen Danny Wells and Duane Haskins voting against it.

"I don't want to single people out because they have different interests," Wells said. "I want to see less government in people's lives. If you have something out of the ordinary, come down to the police station and put it on record."

The city also recently received reports of an alligator in a DeCamp Street house, although there is some dispute about whether the 33.5-inch freshwater alligator really is kept there.

The new ordinance comes with a bite, at least theoretically. A judge can determine a fine for anyone who violates it.

"I don't think we'll get a ton of complaints," Tinnin said, "But with the wolf-dog (situation), this would have allowed us to take action immediately."

Mayor Charles Smiley said he thinks the ordinance will be difficult to enforce and that it won't fully protect people from dangerous animals because even some domestic dogs can be vicious.

Residents can give their opinions on the issue in the next two weeks. The council is expected to discuss the issue again May 19.

See more in Community: Burton
Ban on exotic animals

Included in Burton's proposed ordinance:

• No warm-blooded, carnivorous or omnivorous, wild or exotic animals, dangerous or undomesticated animals not considered ordinary house pets.

• The ban includes foxes, wild or exotic cats, nonhuman primates, raccoons, skunks, wolves and a wolf-dog hybrid.

• It also bans spiders or insects that can inflict poisonous bites, venomous and cold-blooded reptiles, snakes 6 feet or longer, crocodiles, piranha fish, sharks and other dangerous cold-blooded animals.

• Residents have 10 days once the ordinance is enacted to remove banned animals from the city.
Old 05-07-2008, 02:30 PM   #3
Originally Posted by wcreptiles
Burton might put bite on exotic animals as pets
by Ashley A. Smith | The Flint Journal
Tuesday May 06, 2008, 12:17 PM
BURTON -- Don't bring your pet alligator or wolf dog to Burton.


• It also bans spiders or insects that can inflict poisonous bites, venomous and cold-blooded reptiles, snakes 6 feet or longer, crocodiles, piranha fish, sharks and other dangerous cold-blooded animals.

1. While many insects are poisonous, none have a poisonous bite. Same for spiders. The way this is written, ladybugs are banned while fat tailed scorpions would not be. Likely this was not their intent, but the next sentence banning venomous and cold-blooded reptiles shows their collective intelligence.

If passed as written above, this law has more holes than swiss cheese.

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