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Iowa State Laws Governing Private Possession of Exotic Animals

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• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.1. Definitions

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

1. "Agricultural animal" means an agricultural animal as defined in section 717A.1 other than swine which is a member of the species sus scrofa linnaeus, including but not limited to swine commonly known as Russian boar or European boar of either sex.

2. "Assistive animal" means the same as defined in section 216C.11.

3. a. "Circus" means a person who is all of the following:

(1) The holder of a class "C" license issued by the United States department of agriculture as provided in 9 C.F.R., pt. 2, subpt. A.

(2) Is temporarily in this state as an exhibitor as defined in 9 C.F.R., pt. 1, for purposes of providing skilled performances by dangerous wild animals, clowns, or acrobats for public entertainment.

b. "Circus" does not include a person, regardless of whether the person is a holder of a class "C" license as provided in paragraph "a", who uses a dangerous wild animal for any of the following purposes:

(1) A presentation to children at a public or nonpublic school as defined in section 280.2.

(2) Entertainment that involves an activity in which a member of the public is in close proximity to the dangerous wild animal, including but not limited to a contest or a photographic opportunity.

4. "Custody" means to possess, control, keep, or harbor a dangerous wild animal in this state by a public agency.

5. a. "Dangerous wild animal" means any of the following:

(1) A member of the family canidae of the order carnivora, including but not limited to wolves, coyotes, and jackals. However, a dangerous wild animal does not include a domestic dog.

(2) A member of the family hyaenidae of the order of carnivora, including but not limited to hyenas.

(3) A member of the family felidae of the order carnivora, including but not limited to lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, cheetahs, ocelots, and servals. However, a dangerous wild animal does not include a domestic cat.

(4) A member of the family ursidae of the order carnivora, including bears and pandas.

(5) A member of the family rhinocero tidae order perissodactyla, which is a rhinoceros.

(6) A member of the order proboscidea, which are any species of elephant.

(7) A member of the order of primates other than humans, and including the following families: callitrichiadae, cebidae, cercopithecidae, cheirogaleidae, daubentoniidae, galagonidae, hominidae, hylobatidae, indridae, lemuridae, loridae, megaladapidae, or tarsiidae. A member includes but is not limited to marmosets, tamarins, monkeys, lemurs, galagos, bushbabies, great apes, gibbons, lesser apes, indris, sifakas, and tarsiers.

(8) A member of the order crocodilia, including but not limited to alligators, caimans, crocodiles, and gharials.

(9) A member of the family varanidae of the order squamata, which are limited to water monitors and crocodile monitors.

(10) A member of the order squamata which is any of the following:

(a) A member of the family varanidae, which are limited to water monitors and crocodile monitors.

(b) A member of the family atractaspidae, including but not limited to mole vipers and burrowing asps.

(c) A member of the family helodermatidae, including but not limited to beaded lizards and gila monsters.

(d) A member of the family elapidae, voperidae, crotalidae, atractaspidae, or hydrophidae which are venomous, including but not limited to cobras, mambas, coral snakes, kraits, adders, vipers, rattlesnakes, copperheads, pit vipers, keelbacks, cottonmouths, and sea snakes.

(e) A member of the superfamily henophidia, which are limited to reticulated pythons, anacondas, and African rock pythons.

(11) Swine which is a member of the species sus scrofa linnaeus, including but not limited to swine commonly known as Russian boar or European boar of either sex.

b. "Dangerous wild animal" includes an animal which is the offspring of an animal provided in paragraph "a", and another animal provided in that paragraph or any other animal. It also includes animals which are the offspring of each subsequent generation. However, a dangerous wild animal does not include the offspring of a domestic dog and a wolf, or the offspring from each subsequent generation in which at least one parent is a domestic dog.

6. "Department" means the department of agriculture and land stewardship.

7. "Electronic identification device" means a device which when installed is designed to store information regarding an animal or the animal's owner in a digital format which may be accessed by a computer for purposes of reading or manipulating the information.

8. "Possess" means to own, keep, or control a dangerous wild animal, or supervise or provide for the care and feeding of a dangerous wild animal, including any activity relating to confining, handling, breeding, transporting, or exhibiting the dangerous wild animal.

9. "Public agency" means the same as defined in section 28E.2.

10. "Research facility" means any of the following:

a. A federal research facility as provided in 9 C.F.R. ch. I.

b. A research facility that is required to be registered by the United States department of agriculture pursuant to 9 C.F.R. ch. I.

c. A research facility which is certified by the department of agriculture and land stewardship as provided in section 162.10.

11. "Wildlife sanctuary" means an organization exempt from taxation pursuant to section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code that operates a place of refuge where abused, neglected, unwanted, impounded, abandoned, orphaned, or displaced wildlife are provided care for their lifetime, if all of the following apply:

a. The organization does not buy, sell, trade, auction, lease, loan, or breed any animal of which the organization is an owner.

b. The organization is accredited by the American sanctuary association, the association of sanctuaries, or another similar organization recognized by the department.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.2. Rulemaking--chapter 28E agreements--assistance of animal warden

1. The department shall administer this chapter by doing all of the following:

a. Adopting rules as provided in chapter 17A for the administration and enforcement of this chapter.

b. Entering into agreements with public agencies pursuant to chapter 28E as the department determines necessary for the administration and enforcement of this chapter.

2. An animal warden as defined in section 162.2 shall assist the department in seizing and maintaining custody of dangerous wild animals.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.3. Dangerous wild animals--prohibitions

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person shall not do any of the following:

1. Own or possess a dangerous wild animal.

2. Cause or allow a dangerous wild animal owned by a person or in the person's possession to breed.

3. Transport a dangerous wild animal into this state.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.4. Owning or possessing dangerous wild animals on the effective date of this act

A person who owns or possesses a dangerous wild animal on the effective date of this Act may continue to own or possess the dangerous wild animal subject to all of the following:

1. The person must be eighteen years old or older.

2. a. The person must not have been convicted of an offense involving the abuse or neglect of an animal pursuant to a law of this state or another state, including but not limited to chapter 717, 717B, 717C, or 717D or an ordinance adopted by a city or county.

b. The department, another state, or the federal government must not have suspended an application for a permit or license or revoked a permit or license required to operate a commercial establishment for the care, breeding, or sale of animals, including as provided in chapter 162.

c. The person must not have been convicted of a felony for an offense committed within the last ten years, as provided by this Code, under the laws of another state, or under federal law.

d. The person must not have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony for an offense committed within the last ten years involving a controlled substance as defined in section 124.101 in this state, under the laws of another state, or under federal law.

3. Within sixty days after the effective date of this Act, the person must have an electronic identification device implanted beneath the skin or hide of the dangerous wild animal, unless a licensed veterinarian states in writing that the implantation would endanger the comfort or health of the dangerous wild animal. In such case, an electronic identification device may be otherwise attached to the dangerous wild animal as required by the department.

4. Not later than December 31, 2007, the person must notify the department using a registration form prepared by the department. The registration form shall include all of the following information:

a. The person's name, address, and telephone number.

b. A sworn affidavit that the person meets the requirements necessary to own or possess a dangerous wild animal as provided in this section.

c. A complete inventory of each dangerous wild animal which the person owns or possesses. The inventory shall include all of the following information:

(1) The number of the dangerous wild animals according to species.

(2) The manufacturer and manufacturer's number of the electronic device implanted in or attached to each dangerous wild animal.

(3) The location where each dangerous wild animal is kept. The person must notify the department in writing within ten days of a change of address or location where the dangerous wild animal is kept.

(4) The approximate age, sex, color, weight, scars, and any distinguishing marks of each dangerous wild animal.

(5) The name, business mailing address, and business telephone number of the licensed veterinarian who is responsible for providing care to the dangerous wild animal. The information shall include a statement signed by the licensed veterinarian certifying that the dangerous wild animal is in good health.

(6) A color photograph of the dangerous wild animal.

(7) A copy of a current liability insurance policy as required in this section. The person shall send a copy of the current liability policy to the department each year.

5. The person must pay the department a registration fee as provided in section 717F.8.

6. The person must maintain health and ownership records for the dangerous wild animal for the life of the dangerous wild animal.

7. The person must confine the dangerous wild animal in a primary enclosure as required by the department on the person's premises. The person must not allow the dangerous wild animal outside of the primary enclosure unless the dangerous wild animal is moved pursuant to any of the following:

a. To receive veterinary care from a licensed veterinarian.

b. To comply with the directions of the department or an animal warden.

c. To transfer ownership and possession of the dangerous wild animal to a wildlife sanctuary or provide for its destruction by euthanasia as required by the department.

8. The person must display at least one sign on the person's premises where the dangerous wild animal is kept warning the public that the dangerous wild animal is confined there. The sign must include a symbol warning children of the presence of the dangerous wild animal.

9. The person must immediately notify an animal warden or other local law enforcement official of any escape of a dangerous wild animal.

10. The person must maintain liability insurance coverage in an amount of not less than one hundred thousand dollars with a deductible of not more than two hundred fifty dollars, for each occurrence of property damage, bodily injury, or death caused by each dangerous wild animal kept by the person.

11. The person who owns or possesses the dangerous wild animal is strictly liable for any damages, injury, or death caused by the dangerous wild animal. The person must reimburse the department or other public agency for actual expenses incurred by capturing and maintaining custody of the dangerous wild animal.

12. If the person is no longer able to care for the dangerous wild animal, all of the following apply:

a. The person must so notify the department, stating the planned disposition of the dangerous wild animal.

b. The person must dispose of the dangerous wild animal by transferring ownership and possession to a wildlife sanctuary or providing for its destruction by euthanasia as required by the department.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.5. Seizure, custody, and disposal of dangerous wild animals

1. a. Except as provided in paragraph "b", the department shall seize a dangerous wild animal which is in the possession of a person if the person is not in compliance with the requirements of this chapter.

b. Upon request, the department may provide that the person retain possession of the dangerous wild animal for not more than fourteen days, upon conditions required by the department. During that period, the person shall take all necessary actions to comply with this chapter. The department shall inspect the premises where the dangerous wild animal is kept during reasonable times to ensure that the person is complying with the conditions.

2. If the person fails to comply with the conditions of the department at any time or is not in compliance with this chapter following the fourteen-day period, the department shall seize the dangerous wild animal.

a. The dangerous wild animal shall be considered to be a threatened animal which has been rescued as provided in chapter 717B. The court may authorize the return of the dangerous wild animal to the person from whom the dangerous wild animal was seized if the court finds all of the following:

(1) The person is capable of providing the care required for the dangerous wild animal.

(2) There is a substantial likelihood that the person will provide the care required for the dangerous wild animal.

(3) The dangerous wild animal has not been abused, neglected, or tortured, as provided in chapter 717B.

b. If the court orders a permanent disposition of the dangerous wild animal, the dangerous wild animal shall be subject to disposition as provided in section 717B.4 and the responsible party shall be assessed costs associated with its seizure, custody, and disposition as provided in that section. The department may find long-term placement for the dangerous wild animal with a wildlife sanctuary or institution accredited or certified by the American zoo and aquarium association.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.6. Cause of the escape of a dangerous wild animal--prohibition

A person shall not intentionally cause a dangerous wild animal to escape from its place of confinement, including as provided in section 717F.4.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.7. Exemptions

This chapter does not apply to any of the following:

1. An institution accredited or certified by the American zoo and aquarium association.

2. A wildlife sanctuary.

3. A person who keeps falcons, if the person has been issued a falconry license by the department of natural resources pursuant to section 483A.1.

4. A person who owns or possesses a dangerous wild animal as an agricultural animal. The person shall not transfer the dangerous wild animal to another person, unless the person to whom the dangerous wild animal is transferred will own or possess it as an agricultural animal or the person is a wildlife sanctuary.

5. A person who owns or possesses a dangerous wild animal as an assistive animal. The person shall not transfer the dangerous wild animal to another person, unless the person to whom the dangerous wild animal is transferred will own or possess it as an assistive animal or the person is a wildlife sanctuary.

6. A person who harvests the dangerous wild animal as a hunter or trapper pursuant to state law and as regulated by the department of natural resources.

7. A person who has been issued a wildlife rehabilitation permit by the department of natural resources pursuant to section 481A.65.

8. A circus that obtains a permit from a city in which it will be temporarily operating, if the city issues permits.

9. A city.

10. A nonprofit corporation governed under chapter 504 that is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code if the nonprofit corporation was a party to a contract executed with a city prior to the effective date of this Act to provide for the exhibition of dangerous wild animals at a municipal zoo. The nonprofit corporation shall not transfer the dangerous wild animal to another person, unless the person to whom the dangerous wild animal is transferred is a wildlife sanctuary.

11. The state fair as provided in chapter 173 or any fair as provided in chapter 174.

12. A research facility.

13. A location operated by a person licensed to practice veterinary medicine pursuant to chapter 169. However, this subsection shall not apply to a swine which is a member of the species sus scrofa linnaeus, including but not limited to swine commonly known as Russian boar or European boar of either sex.

14. A pound as defined in section 162.2.

15. An animal shelter as defined in section 162.2.

16. A county conservation board as provided in chapter 350.

17. An employee of the department responsible for the administration of this chapter, an animal warden as defined in section 162.2, or an animal care provider or law enforcement officer as defined in section 717B.1.

18. A person temporarily transporting a dangerous wild animal through this state if the transit time is not more than ninety-six hours and the dangerous wild animal is maintained within a confined area sufficient to prevent its escape or injuring members of the traveling public.

19. A public agency which maintains permanent custody of a dangerous wild animal, if the person to whom the public agency assigns the duty to manage the custody of the dangerous wild animal complies with the provisions of section 717F.4.

20. A person who keeps a dangerous wild animal pursuant to all of the following conditions:

a. The person is licensed by the United States department of agriculture as provided in 9 C.F.R. ch. I.

b. The person is registered by the department of agriculture and land stewardship. Upon a complaint filed with the department of agriculture and land stewardship, the department may inspect the premises or investigate the practices of the registered person and suspend or revoke the registration for the same causes and in the same manner as provided in section 162.12.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.8. Dangerous wild animal registration fees

The department may charge a registration fee for each dangerous wild animal owned or possessed by a person required to be registered pursuant to section 717F.4.

1. The department shall collect an annual registration fee which is an original registration fee or a renewal of an original registration fee. The amount of the renewal registration fee is one-half of the amount of the original registration fee. Moneys collected in registration fees shall be deposited in the dangerous wild animal registration fund created in section 717F.9.

2. The amount of the original registration fees shall be as follows:

a. Five hundred dollars for a member of the order proboscidea, which are any species of elephant.

b. Five hundred dollars for a member of the family rhinocero tidae order perissodactyla, which is a rhinoceros.

c. Three hundred dollars for a member of the family ursidae of the order carnivora, which is limited to bears.

d. For a member of the family felidae of the order carnivora, all of the following:

(1) Three hundred dollars for a member of the subfamily pantherinae, limited to leopards other than snow leopards, lions, and tigers; and for a member of the subfamily felinae limited to pumas, jaguars, and cougars.

(2) Two hundred dollars for a member of the subfamily felinae limited to bobcats, clouded leopards, cheetahs, and lynx.

(3) One hundred dollars for a member of the subfamily felinae limited to caracals, desert cats, Geoffroy's cats, jungle cats, margays, ocelots, servals, and wild cats.

e. For a member of the order of primates other than humans, all of the following:

(1) Three hundred dollars for a member commonly referred to as an ape, belonging to the hylobatidae family such as gibbons and siamangs, or to the pongidae family including gorillas, orangutans, or chimpanzees.

(2) One hundred fifty dollars for a member commonly referred to as an old world monkey, belonging to the family cercopithecidae, including but not limited to macaques, rhesus, mangabeys, mandrills, guenons, patas monkeys, langurs, and proboscis monkeys.

(3) Fifty dollars for a member commonly referred to as a new world monkey belonging to the family cebidae, including but not limited to cebids, including capuchin monkeys, howlers, woolly monkeys, squirrel monkeys, night monkeys, titis, uakaris, or to the family callitrichidae, including but not limited to marmosets and tamarins.

f. One hundred dollars for a member of the order crocodilia, including but not limited to alligators, caimans, crocodiles, and gharials.

g. Fifty dollars for a member of the family varanidae of the order squamata, which are limited to water monitors and crocodile monitors.

h. Fifty dollars for a member of the family atractaspidae, including but not limited to mole vipers and burrowing asps.

i. Fifty dollars for a member of the family helodermatidae, including but not limited to beaded lizards and gila monsters.

j. Fifty dollars for a member of the family elapidae, voperidae, crotalidae, atractaspidae, or hydrophidae which are venomous, including but not limited to cobras, mambas, coral snakes, kraits, adders, vipers, rattlesnakes, copperheads, pit vipers, keelbacks, cottonmouths, and sea snakes.

k. One hundred dollars for a member of the superfamily henophidia, which are limited to reticulated pythons, anacondas, and African rock pythons.

l. Ten dollars for swine which is a member of the species sus scrofa linnaeus, including but not limited to swine commonly known as Russian boar or European boar of either sex.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.9. Dangerous wild animal registration fund

1. A dangerous wild animal registration fund is created in the state treasury under the control of the department. The fund is composed of moneys appropriated by the general assembly and moneys available to and obtained or accepted by the department from the United States or private sources for placement in the fund. The fund shall include moneys deposited into the fund from registration fees collected by the department pursuant to section 717F.8.

2. Moneys in the dangerous wild animal registration fund are appropriated to the department exclusively to administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter. The moneys shall not be transferred, used, obligated, appropriated, or otherwise encumbered except as provided in this subsection.

3. Section 8.33 shall not apply to moneys in the dangerous wild animal registration fund. Notwithstanding section 12C.7, moneys earned as income or interest from the fund shall remain in the fund until expended as provided in this section.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.10. Enforcement

The department is the principal agency charged with enforcing the provisions of this chapter. An animal warden as defined in section 162.2, or an animal care provider or law enforcement officer as defined in section 717B.1, shall enforce this chapter as directed by the department.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.11. Civil penalty

A person owning or possessing a dangerous wild animal who violates a provision of this chapter is subject to a civil penalty of not less than two hundred dollars and not more than two thousand dollars for each dangerous wild animal involved in the violation. Each day that a violation continues shall be considered as a separate offense. The civil penalties shall be deposited into the general fund of the state.


• IOWA CODE ANN § 717F.12. Injunctive relief

The courts of this state may prevent and restrain violations of this chapter through the issuance of an injunction. The attorney general or a county attorney may institute suits on behalf of the state to prevent and restrain violations of this chapter.


• IOWA CODE ANN 717F.13. Criminal penalties

A person who intentionally causes a dangerous wild animal to escape in violation of this chapter is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.

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