Following a recent series of panther and puma sightings that have raised
public concern in Northern Ireland, the British government has announced
plans to crack down on the keeping of dangerous wild animals.
According to Northern Ireland office minister Angela Smith, owners will be
required to secure a license from the Department of Environment in order to
keep a wild animal as a pet.
This law will be similar to those in all other parts of the United Kingdom,
which have been covered by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act since 1976.
Licenses will only be issued where the DoE is satisfied that the animal can
be kept securely and properly looked after, Smith told Sky News.
The police and members of the USPCA have conducted a broad search of the
North Antrim area where the wild cats were spotted.
Following the recent sightings, Smith revealed the launch of a 12-week
consultation period to consider proposals to rigidify the legislation on
the keeping of wild animals. The consultation period will conclude on
January 12, 2004.
I am pleased therefore to announce this consultation exercise on proposals
for legislation which will introduce a regime similar to that operating in the
rest of the UK, she said to the Press Association's Dan McGinn.
The Government also stated that although a draft Order in Council was being
prepared at Westminster
for the spring of 2004, arrangements would be made to shift the legislation
into an assembly bill
should the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly take place.
In addition to the new legislation, Smith emphasized the importance of
There is also a need for common sense and social responsibility in this
matter, she said. I find
it both amazing and grossly irresponsible that someone would purchase a wild
animal and then dump it
into the wilderness - legislation or no legislation.
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.