South Carolina law lax on regulating foreign animals

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Mobs of kangaroos can roam largely unrestricted in Wisconsin, West Virginia and South Carolina, where state laws don’t regulate ownership of the creatures.

Other states have taken a harder stance on the chaotic marsupials and either require permits or ban ownership outright, The Post and Courier reported Sunday.

South Carolina has regulations on many native wildlife, but little when it comes to out-of-state animals. Several laws tightening restrictions have passed over the years, including one that went into effect last year that bans the ownership of large wild cats, non-native bears and great apes. West Virginia regulates “dangerous wild animals,” but kangaroos are not included in that category. And Wisconsin doesn’t require permits to own kangaroos.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources doesn’t even keep a list of private individuals who own wild or exotic animals. Though it did track black bear ownership as recently as 2006, when about 30 owners were listed.

“We hear about a lot of those things anecdotally,” state Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Chief Billy Dukes said. “We don’t do any type of reports or compiling of anything like that.”

Though kangaroos are free on a state level, localities in South Carolina, Wisconsin and West Virginia may have their own restrictions.

Despite the apparently lax approach, documented cases of exotic animal escapes in South Carolina are relatively rare, according to the newspaper. Duke recalled a case of escaped Patagonian cavies in McCormick County, where The Greenwood Index-Journal reported a kangaroo was spotted last year.

“We thought it was a prank call, actually, but we answer everything and sure enough, there was a kangaroo off to the side of the road,” Sheriff Clarke Stearns told the newspaper then. “Where the animal was seen is very, very close to where it belongs, so it’s not like he was hopping at large around McCormick County.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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