Regulating Wildlife Exhibitors, Importers And Exporters

Man has kept wild animals in captivity for thousands of years. He did it by necessity in the beginning to help in the hunt or, when the growl of an empty stomach outweighed the animal's advantage of hunting prowess, to place in the pot. "Civilized man," usually with a full stomach and leisure time, gradually developed a view of the animal kingdom from a perspective other than skewered over an open fire. He became fascinated by the unusual, awed by the brute strength, and amazed at the diversity of the world's fauna. These shifts in man's attitude toward wildlife, as well as the old world collections of scientific menageries, spawned an increasing interest in zoological parks. This familiarity with unusual animals from all over the world has helped generate todays booming pet trade - a worldwide commerce in exotic animals. Men still exhibit animals for show and profit, but affluent man also likes to own exotic fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. He often equates admiration of a specimen with possession, possession with dominance, dominance with status, and, thus, the enjoyment of owning a beast, whether for pleasure or profit, or both, is supposedly enhanced. The by-products of this trend have created three complex enforcement dilemmas - the regulation of wildlife exhibits, the control of imported animals, and the control of exported wildlife, particularly unique native species. These problems have periodically plagued every state and the intent of this presentation is to define the major problems and to present a program for effectively coping with them. Before discussing procedures or techniques, it is imperative that we examine the most important facet of the program - specialization of personnel. The key to the success of any program in this area is the establishment of a specialized inspection unit. The concept is to blend personnel having a biological background with the wildlife officer's enforcement expertise. The product will eliminate the need for both a biologist and a wildlife officer for routine inspections and will produce a well-informed specialized inspector. The inspector's sole responsibility would be to monitor and enforce the multitude of regulations affecting exhibition, possession, transportation, importation, and exportation of wildlife. Requirements for such a position should be necessarily high. A four-year degree in the biological sciences or several years of comparable experience are realistic qualifications. An inspector must be familiar with the identification of animals from all over the world; must be acquainted with basic philosophies and theories regarding exhibition of wildlife; and must be apprized of various behavioral characteristics and locomotor patterns of the diverse groups of animals with which he must work.

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