Earlier this week investigators found a starving cougar and the remains of four others on a Poweshiek County farm. An Iowa lawmaker’s renewing his effort to ban the ownership of exotic animals. It’s a matter of public safety as well as protecting the animals, according to representative Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield. The democratic lawmaker introduced a bill that restricted the ownership of certain wild animals. Swain plans to “make a big push for it,” saying recent events prove the need. Tom Colvin, president of the Iowa Federation of Humane Societies, says the bill will get plenty of support from animal-welfare advocates. Colvin says he’s seeing more complaints about wild animals kept as pets, from people who either don’t think they’re getting good care or fear they’re kept under circumstances that could let them escape and threaten public safety Colvin says he thinks most exotic animals should be limited to sanctuaries and accredited zoos. He says state law could clarify which animals are okay for pets: There’d be a list so people don’t have to worry about hamsters or exotic chickens, but would know it bans “lions and tigers and bears.” Ryan Norris of St-Charles is an exotic pet owner who says unusual animals can make wonderful pets. He says it “only takes one or two” to ruin it for everybody because when the public hear about an exotic pet becoming a problem it turns them against them, and he says owners don’t speak out. Norris says he’s been considering adding a small Bengal cat to his menagerie of blood pythons, tortoises and exotic fish. It takes a special person, he says, to take care of a special animal, and he recommends screening would-be owners and registering the animals so the state can ensure they’re being cared for properly. Norris says some people buy exotic animals over the internet without considering the cost and time needed to care for them.
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