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State Wildlife Officials Approve New Rules for Keeping Wildlife

BANGOR, Maine - State wildlife officials today adopted a framework of new rules governing the ownership and keeping of wildlife species in Maine. But the process is not quite over.

The rules include a revamping of the requirements to keep certain animals, and which animals will be allowed. 

Among changes are increased fines for violations, changes to the permitting process, and the empowerment of third-parties to inspect wildlife facilities. 

Nathan Webb, a biologist with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says the rules bring the department more in line with state statutes, and are designed improve safety for the public, the environment, and the animals themselves.

But not everyone is thrilled. "Reaction to it is is that it's very much overreaching," says Rob Christian, who heads the Maine Herpetological Society.

Christian says the Maine Warden Service struggled to understand the old rules, which were more simple.  The new rules, he says, make it much more complicated by adding classification layers to who is allowed to keep which animal types.  That, he says, will likely baffle wardens trying to enforce the law, "because they are not experts in exotic animals - any of them."

Christian says there have been cases where wardens have seized and euthanized legal animals such as boa constrictors and rattle snakes.  He says the new rules make it even more complicated to know what's allowed and what isn't.

The final list of animals and which classification they fall under has not been finalized yet. A seven-member technical committee will be appointed by IF & W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock in the coming weeks, with a final rule - and complete list - expected by early 2017.