Dangerous wild animals; Class 1 misdemeanor to privately possess, sell, transfer, etc. (HB1242)

Introduced By

Del. Chris Peace (R-Mechanicsville)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Dangerous wild animals.  Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to privately possess, sell, transfer, or breed dangerous wild animals, which are identified by taxonomic classification. The bill would grandfather in the ownership of any existing lawful dangerous wild animals; however, the owner of such animals is required to meet certain conditions in order to maintain possession of the animals. The bill limits the possession of dangerous wild animals to certain types of entities and facilities. The legislation sets out the procedures to be followed in the impoundment and forfeiture of dangerous wild animals. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/20/2012Presented and ordered printed 12104169D
01/20/2012Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
01/27/2012Assigned ACNRsub: Agriculture
02/01/2012Continued to 2013 in Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
02/01/2012Continued with Substitute to 2013 in Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
02/01/2012Committee substitute printed 12104581D-H1
02/01/2012Continued to 2013 with substitute in Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources


Gary writes:

I wish to express my strongest opposition to HB 1242 ,reference altering the states current regulations regarding which animals are deemed “ wild and dangerous”. I believe this legislation is not needed and is most certainly a political grandstanding action derived from the actions of a deranged person in Ohio. The current Virginia regulations in effect are more than adequate to protect all of our citizens. Current Virginia regulations restrict the ownership of multiple species (bear, wolf, tigers, lions, alligators, raccoons etc.), which the statute already deems “predatory or undesirable to the commonwealth” (VAC 15-30-40). The addition of primates and other reptiles to this roster would be completely unnecessary and produce an undue financial burden to many of Virginia’s citizens, who are already struggling. The responsible owners of these creatures should not be penalized for the actions of others, not even in the same state. Multiple Virginia local governments also have a plethora of restrictions in regards to exotic animal ownership. The federal government also regulates breeders and exhibitors of all exotic mammals and there is no need for additional mandates at the state level.
As for the Virginia statistics the Humane Society of the United States recently cited “exotic occurrences” entailed a total of only 7 cases from 2003-2011. These included x1 fatality (to an owner), 4 non-life- threatening injuries and 2 escapes (without injury of any kind) of these three of the incidents involved animals already restricted by Virginia statute. In contrast in Virginia in 2007 alone there were 4,346 dog bites (per Virginia Dept. of Health) and in 2009 alone there were three dog related fatalities in Virginia (DogBite.org). Nation-wide in 2011 there were 31 dog-related fatalities (DogBite.org). Yet we are not debating the merits of completely banning canines within the commonwealth.

Samantha writes:

See my comment and others who commented on SB 477, a very similar bill. I OPPOSE both!

Alice writes:

If, as Gary states, Virginia already restricts ownership of lions, then explain to me how a private sanctuary in Louisa County has a lion in addition to "lions, tigers, llamas,
camels, alligators, snakes and all types" and wolves. The lion is a frequent "attraction" (caged of course) at the Louisa County football games. In contrast to Gary's assertion, no one seems to be regulating the exhibiting of these animals and there is nothing at all to prevent the owner from becoming disgruntled and letting them all loose in a community this is certainly not equipped to manage them.

Samantha writes:

Alice - Dangerous animals ARE regulated by Virginia and the Lion you mentioned is also regulated by Federal Law. Whoever owns this lion has Virginia permits to possess and exhibit it and as such is regulated by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries guidelines for caging and also USDA guidelines. The facility where this lion is held is also inspected by VDGIF officials and USDA Inspectors. You say there is nothing to keep a disgruntled owner from "turning them all loose"....there is also nothing to keep Virginia Equestrian Farms from turning loose all of their horses either- I might add horses are responsible for more deaths in VA than any big cat, snake, bear, or primate - for that matter, what if your local ASPCA or Animal shelter decided to turn all it's dogs loose? These are hypotheticals, and we cant enact laws based on hypotheticals. Before you accuse the state of not regulating something, educate yourself.

Alice writes:

Samantha - one important difference I will point out about your likening of renegade wild animals to renegade domestic animals, is that our local AC is, at least in principle, equipped to deal with loose dogs and loose horses. They are most definitely not equipped to deal with loose lions, tigers, pythons, gorillas, .....

Samantha writes:

Alice-those bonifide zoo's in Virginia, even the non AZA ones,are equipped to handle any escapee's also. They are required by existing law to have countermeasures in place for the unforseen.