2015 - 2016 LEGISLATURE
August 26, 2015 - Introduced by Senators Wanggaard, Risser,
Miller, Lassa and
C. Larson, cosponsored by Representatives Kerkman,
Kremer, Stuck, Novak, Subeck, Sinicki, Spreitzer, Thiesfeldt, Murphy,
Ohnstad, Hintz, Genrich, A. Ott and Kitchens. Referred to Committee on
Judiciary and Public Safety.
1An Act to amend
169.07 (1) (a), 169.08 (1), 169.11 (1) (a) (intro.), 169.15 (4) (b), 2
173.22 (1) and 173.22 (3) (a) (intro.); and to create
173.13 (1) (a) 10., 173.21 (1) 3
(e), 173.22 (3) (a) 5. and 173.50 of the statutes; relating to: the possession of
4certain wild animals and providing a penalty.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes changes to the laws relating to the possession of certain wild
Under current law, known as the captive wildlife law, the Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) regulates the possession of, and other activities related to,
certain wild animals. Generally under current law, a person may not possess a wild
animal that is native to Wisconsin without a license from DNR. There are exceptions
to this prohibition for some animals, including chipmunks, mice, pigeons, and voles.
Certain entities may possess wild animals without a license from DNR, including
veterinarians, zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, municipal
zoos, and circuses.
Generally, the captive wildlife law does not require a person to have a license
from DNR to possess a wild animal that is not native to Wisconsin, such as a lion,
unless the animal is endangered or threatened and native to the United States or
Canada or is a harmful wild animal. Under the statutes, cougars, wild and feral
swine, and bears, including nonnative bears, are harmful wild animals. The law
authorizes DNR to designate other wild animals that satisfy specified criteria as
harmful wild animals. DNR has designated mute swans and wolf-dog hybrids as
harmful wild animals. Generally, a person may not possess, exhibit, propagate, sell,
or purchase a harmful wild animal without specific authorization in a license issued
The captive wildlife law also authorizes a city, village, town, or county to enact
an ordinance that prohibits the possession of wild animals.
This bill generally prohibits the possession, propagation, and sale of dangerous
exotic animals. Under the bill, dangerous exotic animals are nonnative big cats,
including lions and tigers; nonnative bears, including brown bears and polar bears;
apes, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and gibbons; and crocodilians, including
alligators, crocodiles, and caimans. Certain entities are exempt from the
prohibitions, including veterinarians, accredited zoos, municipal zoos, circuses,
federally licensed research facilities, and wildlife sanctuaries. The bill authorizes
a person who does not qualify for an exemption but who owns a dangerous exotic
animal when the bill takes effect to continue to possess the animal if the person
registers the animal with the municipality in which the person keeps the animal.
The bill prohibits a person from allowing a member of the public to come into
direct contact with a dangerous exotic animal and requires the owner of a dangerous
exotic animal to inform local law enforcement if the animal escapes. The bill also
authorizes a city, village, town, or county to enact an ordinance relating to dangerous
exotic animals if the ordinance is at least as strict as the provisions in the bill relating
to dangerous exotic animals.
In addition, the bill eliminates DNR's authority, under the captive wildlife law,
to regulate dangerous exotic animals, including nonnative bears, as harmful wild
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
169.07 (1) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) No person may exhibit any captive live native wild animal or any
3captive live nonnative wild animal of the family ursidae
except as authorized under 4
a captive wild animal farm license, a rehabilitation license, a nonprofit educational 5
exhibiting license, or a nonresident temporary exhibiting license or under s. 29.319.
169.08 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
169.08 (1) Requirement.
No person may propagate any native wild animal or
8any nonnative wild animal of the family ursidae
except as authorized under a captive
wild animal farm license, a bird hunting preserve license, a wild fur farm license, a 2
nonprofit educational exhibiting license, or a scientific research license.
169.11 (1) (a) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) (intro.) The department shall designate by rule cougars, members 5
of the family ursidae species Ursus americanus
, wild swine, and feral swine as 6
harmful wild animals. After consulting with the department of agriculture, trade 7
and consumer protection and the department of health services, the department of 8
natural resources may designate by rule other species of wild animals
9dangerous exotic animals, as defined in s. 173.50 (1) (b),
as harmful wild animals if 10
any of the following applies:
169.15 (4) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) If any member of the family ursidae,
or canidae or of the
13species Ursus americanus
escapes from its enclosure or fenced area on a captive wild 14
animal farm, the person holding the captive wild animal farm license shall notify the 15
department within 24 hours after the escape.
173.13 (1) (a) 10. of the statutes is created to read:
(a) 10. A dangerous exotic animal possessed, imported into this state, 18
sold, transferred, or bred in violation of s. 173.50.
173.21 (1) (e) of the statutes is created to read:
(e) There are reasonable grounds to believe that the animal is a 21
dangerous exotic animal possessed, imported into this state, sold, transferred, or 22
bred in violation of s. 173.50.
173.22 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
173.22 (1) Petition.
A person claiming that an animal that he or she owns was 25
improperly taken into custody under s. 173.13 (1) (a) 3., 4., 5., 6. or,
8., or 10.
wrongfully withheld under s. 173.21 (1) may seek return of the animal by petitioning 2
for an order from the circuit court for the county in which the animal was taken into 3
custody or in which it is held.
173.22 (3) (a) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) (intro.) If the animal was taken into custody under s. 173.13 (1) 6
(a) 8. or 10.
or is withheld under s. 173.21 (1), the court shall order the animal 7
returned to the owner unless it determines that one of the following conditions is 8
173.22 (3) (a) 5. of the statutes is created to read:
(a) 5. There are reasonable grounds to believe that the animal is a 11
dangerous exotic animal possessed, imported into this state, sold, transferred, or 12
bred in violation of s. 173.50.
173.50 of the statutes is created to read:
14173.50 Dangerous exotic animals. (1) Definitions.
In this section:
(a) "Circus" means an entity holding a class C license as an exhibitor under the 16
federal Animal Welfare Act, 7 USC 2131
, who conducts scheduled events 17
performed by a traveling company that uses mobile facilities in which entertainment 18
consisting of a variety of performances by acrobats, clowns, and trained animals is 19
the primary attraction or principal business.
(b) "Dangerous exotic animal" means a live animal that is any of the following:
1. One of the following animals of the family felidae: a lion, tiger, jaguar, 22
leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, Sunda clouded leopard, or cheetah or a 23
hybrid of any of these species.
2. One of the following animals of the family ursidae: an Asiatic black bear, 2
brown bear, polar bear, sloth bear, sun bear, giant panda bear, or spectacled bear or 3
a hybrid of any of these species.
3. One of the following animals of the family hominidae: a gorilla, orangutan, 5
chimpanzee, or bonobo.
4. One of the following animals of the family hylobatidae: a siamang or gibbon.
5. One of the following animals of the order crocodylia: an alligator of any 8
species, crocodile of any species, caiman of any species, or gharial.