New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced a new regulatory proposal to help protect the public and the state’s native fish and wildlife by expanding the list of animals regulated as “dangerous.” The proposed regulation also enhances DEC’s authority to implement licensing requirements that will ensure that dangerous animals held at facilities for exhibition purposes do not pose a threat to humans or other animals.

“DEC recognizes the appeal of seeing nature up close and learning more about some of the world’s diverse species, but these proposed standards are designed to protect the public and New York’s native wildlife populations from harm,” Commissioner Seggos said. “These regulations will help further ensure public safety, protect indigenous species, and the well-being of the dangerous animals being sought for exhibition.”

These changes were prompted by a growing number of incidents involving dangerous animals that have posed a risk to public safety and the environment, including: DEC seizures of alligators, caimans, and other animals kept in inhumane conditions in Wappingers Falls; an individual airlifted to a hospital after being bitten by one of the approximately 150 vipers illegally in his possession; an escaped, and recaptured, anaconda in Suffolk County; and DEC seizures of more than 20 dangerous animals including vipers, cobras, rattlesnakes, anacondas, alligators, and caimans in Madison County.

DEC already regulates the possession of dozens of dangerous animals for exhibition purposes, including American alligators, caimans, venomous snakes, native bears, wolves, large cats (lion, tiger, leopard), large reptiles, and gorillas. With proper approvals in place, these animals can be owned by zoos, game farms, and other private facilities that allow public viewing, but not as pets.

The proposed regulation change expands the list of animals that pose a threat to public safety

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