Rules would regulate exotic pet trade in Vermont

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You may never have heard of Komodo dragons . You may never have seen a “death stalker” scorpion.

Even so, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife department is taking public comments about rules that would regulate the trade of exotic animals.

VPR’s John Dillon has the story.

(Dillon) Under the new rules, Vermonters can not keep wild animals or large carnivores. In other words, no lions and tigers and bears.

Black widow spiders are on the prohibited list, as are giant flying squirrels and three species of poison arrow frogs.

Scott Darling a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Department, says the state already has laws on the books that require people to get permits if they want to import or posses many exotic creatures.

The new regulations are designed to clarify existing rules – while at the same time spelling out exactly what animals can be imported or sold.

(Darling) “And it does in fact have implications for animal hobbyists or breeders as well as pet shops, in that those animals not specifically considered domestic already are going to be reviewed in order to have them imported into the state of Vermont.”

(Dillon) Domestic pets – cats, dogs, and parrot-like birds are exempt from these regulations. But anyone selling or keeping other captive creatures may need a permit from the state.

The reason is to protect human health and native Wildlife. Some of the foreign imports can out-compete indigenous creatures.

And in some cases the trade in exotic species endangers populations in the wild. Darling says that’s the case with many turtles.

(Darling) “We’re having an awful hard time coming up with turtles that should be on our unrestricted list because so many of the pet turtles that are out there today are actually captured in the wild sometimes illegally and then sold in the pet industry.”

(Dillon) Pet stores are covered by the rules. Jason Bouzar is manager of the Pet Advantage store in South Burlington. He says he’s generally satisfied with the proposed regulations.

(Bouzar) “I guess really what they’re trying to do is they don’t want dangerous stuff, they don’t want stuff that if it were to get lose it could populate Vermont because there’s a lot of Asian species of frogs and European species of salamanders that if they get loose could survive here.”

(Dillon) The state came up with two lists – one includes wild animals that are exempt from permit requirements. Guinea pigs, mice, chameleons, and the African pygmy hedgehog are allowed. Sale or posses of other species will require a permit from the department.

Prohibited are carnivorous mammals and a menagerie of other potentially dangerous or rare creatures. Biologist Scott Darling:

(Darling) “All of the members of the order of bats would be prohibited from importing and possessing. Many of these large, very large lizards that some hobbyists like to have would be prohibited as well.”

(Dillon) And that specifically includes Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizard. The native of Indonesia likes to feed on deer and wild boar.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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