Animal release fuels debate

Buckeye Farm News

The intentional release of lions, bears, tigers and other exotic species in rural Muskingum County has created significant public demand for new laws to control ownership of such animals. But the topic of wild and dangerous animals has been on Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s (OFBF) agenda for several months.

“Normally, this wouldn’t have been our issue,” said Mike Bumgarner, vice president of OFBF’s Center for Food and Animal Issues.

He explained that OFBF’s involvement is due to the agreement signed last year between then Gov. Ted Strickland, the Humane Society of the United States, OFBF and other Ohio farm organizations.

“Our goal with the agreement was to protect Ohio livestock farmers, and we got that done. But the overall agreement also involves us in the wild and dangerous animal discussion,” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner believes there is a good reason for Farm Bureau to be at this particular table. He referred to the possibility that some well intentioned proposal that deals with one set of animals can have unintended consequences for another set of animals.

“We need to be looking out for the interests of livestock farmers,” he said.

Another Farm Bureau interest is the protection of personal property rights. While no one argues against protecting public safety and the need for all animals to be appropriately cared for, the discussion cannot ignore the rights of individuals.

While recognizing the tragic nature of the Muskingum County incident, Bumgarner believes the state is correct to give this issue a full and fair review. And he says Farm Bureau will meet its responsibility to be a part of the deliberative process.

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