In a suit filed on October 24th with the Superior
Court of California, the Animal Protection Institute (API) and
The Fund for Animals called for the California Department of
Fish & Game (CDFG) to enforce provisions of state Fish and
Game codes concerning exotic animals which were enacted
The lawsuit stems from a 1999 API investigation into
inconsistencies of then-new CDFG regulations with existing
statutes and the actions of CDFG which were inconsistent
with its own regulations. Also at issue are unimplemented
regulations that require establishing a committee to advise
the director and entering into memorandums of
understanding (MOUs) with eligible local entities to revoke or
deny permits regarding the exhibition of exotic animals. The
suit also seeks to compel CDFG to modify and/or enforce
For example, CDFG regulations bar issuing a permit if the
exhibitor is being investigated for, charged with, or
convicted of, violating the Animal Welfare Act. Yet API’s
investigation showed that a number of circuses and other
exhibitors received California permits despite investigation by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Also, the CDFG issued permits to unqualified zoos even
though its own regulations require these zoos to be
members of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
Two “zoos” weren’t members, and others were under
investigation by the USDA.
Both The Fund and API charge that the Committee — of
which The Fund’s Virginia Handley was a part — never
advised or assisted the director in entering into MOUs with
eligible local entities regarding on site inspections of facilities
with wild animals although many eligible groups — including
the Santa Clara Humane Society, the Los Angeles SPCA and
the Marin Humane Society — remain interested in obtaining
MOUs with CDFG. This also directly contradicts the
intentions of the 1985 law.
“By ignoring this statutory requirement, the California
Department of Fish & Game has thumbed its nose at the
legislature and the public, an inexcusable failure that puts
the welfare of animals and the safety of California citizens in
jeopardy,” said Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President
of The Fund for Animals.
“The California Department of Fish & Game wasted years and
rejected numerous opportunities to fulfill the obligations of
this 16-year-old law,” said Nicole Paquette, Counsel for the
Sacramento-based Animal Protection Institute. “It appears
that CDFG has no intention of serving its own mandate.
Californians — and the animals placed on exhibit in this
State — both deserve better.”
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