List Of Banned Animals Altered

CHARLESTON – West Virginia’s Dangerous Wild Animal Board has thrown out a proposed list of banned exotic animals and will now use a list created for Ohio.

The board’s technical committee will meet next week to review and make adjustments to the list, which was created and approved by the Ohio General Assembly following the 2011 release of exotic and dangerous animals from a farm in Zanesville.

Some parts of the new list are very specific to Ohio and will have to be revised for West Virginia. Butch Antolini, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, cited banned snakes as an example.

“The Ohio list says snakes of 12 feet (are banned) and West Virginia law already says six feet,” he said.

Nancy Sullivan, assistant to the director of the state Division of Natural Resources and a member of the board, asked for the technical committee to look at both lists and to add to the new list creatures from the original list that were not objected to or that are considered dangerous. Sullivan said the Ohio list does not include any fish, but WVDNR believes several species of fish do pose a danger.

The original list, which was published July 2 for public comment, was considered confusing and covered a wide selection of animals, ranging from dangerous creatures such as tigers to small exotic pets such as hedgehogs and sugar gliders. There also were omissions, such as monkeys and gorillas, that left people scratching their heads.

The state Department of Agriculture has received 206 comments so far. Officials said the most comments, 28, dealt with rabbits, which were included on the list of dangerous and banned animals. The next most commented on creature was the sugar glider, with 22 comments protesting its inclusion on the list.

Turtles, hedgehogs, fish, birds, ferrets, alpacas and geckos rounded out the most commented on creatures. In some cases, such as rabbits, ferrets and alpacas, state law already allows for ownership and those animals would be exempt.

Officials said only one comment so far has been in favor of the exotic animals law. Many comments complained of the possible economic consequences for pet stores or those who raise exotic animals as livestock.

Paul Johansen, assistant chief in charge of game management for DNR, said the feedback was valuable.

“I was very pleased with the response we got from the public. That is exactly what we were looking for,” he said. “This has generated a significant amount of public interest. We’re taking those comments seriously and they are all being reviewed.”

Jewell Plumley, state veterinarian for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and chair of the Dangerous Wild Animal Board, said the Ohio list uses more simplified language, referring to animals by name rather than by species or group. It also is more clear on restrictions and exemptions, she said.

The public comment period for the new list will end at noon Aug. 1. Comments can only be submitted in writing to The West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Attn: Jodee Martin, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, WV 25305; or by email to

The Dangerous Wild Animal Board will meet July 30 to consider more public comments and the revised animal list.