Bill Summary for H 554 (2015-2016)

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Summary date: 

Apr 6 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 554 (Public) Filed Thursday, April 2, 2015
Intro. by McGrady, Hurley, Hardister, Saine.

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Bill summary

Adds new Article 7, Dangerous Wild Animals, to GS Chapter 19A.

Definesdangerous wild animal to mean: (1) red wolves and gray wolves; (2) all species of felids, excluding domestic cats but including hybrids of lions, tigers, leopards, clouded leopards, snow leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, and mountain lions; (3) all species of hyena and aardwolf; (4) all species of bears; and (5) all species of primates, excluding humans. Also defines the following terms as they apply in this Article: (1) animal control authority, (2) circus, (3) law enforcement officer, (4) person, and (5) wildlife sanctuary.

Enacts new GS 19A-72, Prohibited Activities. Subsection (a) provides that regardless of any other provision of law, unless exempt under this Article, it is unlawful for any person to possess, sell, transfer, or breed a dangerous wild animal. Subsection (b) provides that regardless of any other provision of law, it is unlawful for any person to allow any member of the public to come into direct physical contact with a dangerous wild animal regardless of the age of the animal.

Enacts GS 19A-73, Exemptions. Provides that the prohibitions against any person possessing, selling, transferring, or breeding a dangerous wild animal do not apply to the following: (1) institutions accredited or certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA); (2) research facilities as defined in the federal Animal Welfare Act; (3) wildlife sanctuaries, as defined in GS 19A-71(6); (4) incorporated nonprofit animal protection organizations; (5) veterinary hospitals, clinics, and veterinarians; (6) law enforcement officers; (7) circuses, as defined in GS 19A-71(2); and (8) a person temporarily transporting a legally owned dangerous wild animal and meeting specified requirements and limitations.

Declares that the prohibitions in GS 19A-72(a), which declare it unlawful for any person to possess, sell, transfer, or breed a dangerous wild animal, do not apply to persons who lawfully possessed a dangerous wild animal before June 1, 2015, provided that the person meets certain specified criteria that include maintaining veterinary records, acquisition papers, or other documents that establish that the person lawfully possessed the animal before June 1, 2015. Also requires the lawfulowner to pay a registration fee to the local animal control authority by September 1, 2015, and annually thereafter, and to provide proof of liability insurance of not less than $250,000 with a deductible of not more than $250,000 for each occurrence of property damage, bodily injury, or death caused by any dangerous wild animal possessed by the person. Provides additional specifications and requirements related to the possession, sale, transfer, and breeding of a dangerous wild animal.

Enacts GS 19A-75 to provide criteria for the transport and containment of a dangerous wild animal. Declares that it is unlawful for a person to knowingly release a dangerous wild animal into the wild.

Enacts GS 19A-76 to provide that the provisions of this Article are to be enforced by any state law enforcement officer, or by any other law enforcement officer or animal control authority in whose jurisdiction a violation occurs. Provides that this Article is not to be construed as prohibiting a city or county from passing or enforcing a law that places additional restrictions or requirements on the possession, sale, transfer, or breeding of dangerous wild animals. Specifies how animals may be seized under the provisions of this Article.Provides for the placement of animals with AZA or other such facilities and also allows for humanely euthanizing a dangerous wild animal in compliance with state and federal law if after reasonable efforts no AZA or wildlife sanctuary is willing and able to provide long-term care for the animal.

Makes each violation of this Article a Class 2 misdemeanor and imposes a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for a violation of this Article. Provides that each animal possessed, sold, transferred, or bred constitutes a separate offense under this Article. Makes an act or omission by a dangerous wild animal owner or custodian in the care, control, or containment of that animal that results in the animal running loose or causing property damage is liable for a Class A1 misdemeanor. Provides that if the act or omission results in seriously bodily injury to any person, the owner of the animal will be held strictly liable and the offense is a Class I felony. Provides that any person who lives in the county where a dangerous wild animal is kept may bring a civil action against the owner or custodian of the animal to enjoin a violation of this Article.

Declares that if any part of this Article is deemed unconstitutional or unenforceable, it does not affect the constitutionality or enforceability of any other part.

Effective December 1, 2015, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.