People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and wildlife expert Jack Hanna have all made statements on the killing of wild animals that have escaped from Muskingum County Animal Farm, a private wildlife reserve in east-central Ohio.
Many people are furious at the killing of so many wild animals—up to 44 so far, according to Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz—but well-respected wildlife expert Jack Hannah agrees with the decision the sheriff made last night to shoot-to-kill in this case.
"You cannot tranquilize an animal like this, a bear or a leopard or a tiger [at night]," Hanna said Wednesday on ABC's Good Morning, America. Hanna, who is the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, explained that a tranquilized animal could run off and hide after being hit by the tranquilizer. This could create an even more dangerous situation, making the already dangerous and elusive animals even harder to find, and an even greater risk, not only to officers, but to the public, as well.
PETA released a statement today, following the deaths of dozens of the escaped animals, which included bears, lions, wolves and tigers:
“The shooting of dozens of exotic animals in Zanesville is a tragic example of just how wrong things can go when people are allowed to keep wild animals. Keeping exotic animals is inhumane and unsafe for both animals and people, and it's time that Ohio did something about it."
The Humane Society of the United States also indicated that Ohio, known to have some of the most lenient restrictions in the United States on the housing of wild and exotic animals by private individuals, needs to do something to strengthen its laws, and do it quickly:
"Every month brings a new, bizarre, almost surreal incident involving privately held dangerous wild animals," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said to CNN. "In recent years, Ohioans have died and suffered injuries because the state hasn't stopped private citizens from keeping dangerous wild animals as pets or as roadside attractions. Owners of large, exotic animals are a menace to society, and it's time for the delaying on the rulemaking to end."
There was obviously concern regarding the killing of these animals, but "we do not fault them for using lethal force," said Debbie Leahy, captive wildlife regulatory specialist for the Humane Society of the United States to CNN. "What we're finding, in places where they have lax regulations ... rural sheriffs and local animal control officers are being forced to deal with issues ranging from rampaging chimpanzees to tigers running amok," Leahy said, and, typically, officers in these areas are not trained to handle these types of animals in these extreme situations. She also echoed Hanna's concern about tranquilizers, indicating that, while they are sometimes an option, they take time to work, potentially giving them time to harm a person or to get away and hide. Also, if the animal in question has a high level of adrenaline in its system, the tranquilizers can also work to simply make it more agitated and, therefore, even more dangerous.
Regarding first responders who have to man the frontlines to protect people and actually kill the animals, Leahy said, "We have found, in some cases, they're just as traumatized as the rest of us." Sometimes, she indicated, they will even require counseling following such an event. "They don't want to have to shoot these animals."
"People shouldn't be blaming (authorities)," Leahy said. "They should be blaming the Ohio government for not taking action to prevent this incident."
"People have to understand something ... human life comes first," Hanna told CNN. "No one loves animals more than me, but human life has to come first."
For those who would like to help the remaining captured animals, more information is available: Captured Zanesville, Ohio, animals transferred to Columbus Zoo (VIDEO)
Read more about the released wild animals in Zanesville, OH, and view additional video footage, on Huliq.com:
Lions, tigers and bears roaming I-70 in Ohio (VIDEO)
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Video: ABCs Good Morning, America