House Resolution No. 797, Pr.’s No. 4217, of 2004 was adopted on June 30, 2004. The resolution directed the Joint State Government Commission to study “the efficacy of the existing statute and regulations as well as the feasibility and suitability of transferring the regulatory authority of exotic wildlife maintained in captivity from the Pennsylvania Game Commission to the Department of Agriculture.” The resolution required the Commission to address the following:
- Protection of the public from dangerous animals and disease transmission from exotic wildlife;
- Protection of domestic animals and indigenous wildlife from unwanted predators, genetic interaction and disease transmission from exotic wildlife;
- The care and keeping of exotic wildlife maintained in captivity;
- Categories of exotic wildlife which should be regulated and whether any species should be prohibited from being maintained in captivity;
- The ways the budgets of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Department of Agriculture and the General Fund would be affected by any change in the regulatory authority;
- How the existing workforce would be utilized, whether newpersonnel would be necessary and what training would be available at what cost under any change in the regulatory authority;
- Recommendations for clarifying the relevant definitions; and
- Recommendations for local government involvement.
The first chapter of this report provides an overview of the current law regarding exotic wildlife maintained in captivity in the Commonwealth. It also summarizes the legislative history of Act 60 of 1982, the first edition of Pennsylvania’s exotic wildlife law. Comments made in the House of Representatives during the final deliberations before passage of the act are included. The chapter ends with a section describing the overlap in authority over wildlife in the Commonwealth. The second chapter presents current Pennsylvania Game Commission budget information regarding exotic wildlife and projects the budgetary impacts a transfer of oversight authority to the Department of Agriculture might entail. The next chapter presents issues regarding exotic wildlife in captivity and includes comments and suggestions from numerous individuals and organizations and statutory responses made in other states, which leads to the final chapter containing staff conclusions and recommendations.