Do you live in close proximity to tigers, lions, alligators, grizzly bears, chimpanzees, or other potentially dangerous wildlife? Well according to a report by MSNBC.com, Susan Williams, a citizen residential Okeechobee, FL, had no idea that she had such animals living right next door, until she called Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission amid neighborhood rumors that her neighbor had a tiger, a grizzly bear, and four other species of bear, living on his property – all confirmed to be true, with all obtained legally by permit for each animal. Per the report, the FFWCC maintains that most of Florida’s most dangerous animals do not reside in zoos or sanctuaries, but in people’s private homes.
Think that this is only a kooky Florida problem? Guess again. The tendency for people owning exotic animals in residential areas posing significant risk to citizens was clearly evident in Connecticut, when someones pet chimp brutally attacked a 55 year old woman, according to the report.
Unfortunately, without major legislative changes to existing law in most states, not much can be done to change this situation. With over 400 Class I and Class II exotic animals permits among private individuals in Florida alone, achieving such legislature could be a big challenge.
Some lawmakers seek a compromise where the private owners of exotic animals would be required to notify the local authorities of the types of animals on their property, who would in turn notify surrounding neighbors. Opponents of this, however, feel that such notification could put people at additional risk, as it may encourage thrill seekers and kids to scale fences to get in close proximity to these dangerous animals. Still others propose that legal property size limits for Class II exotic animals be set at a 5 acre minimum.
However this turns out, this certainly gives us good reason to instill in our children that they should not, and may not trespass on private property, for if they do, who knows what they may run into??