Ohio owners sue state over new exotic animal law

COLUMBUS (AP) — Four owners of exotic animals in Ohio are suing the state’s agriculture department and its director over a new law regulating dangerous wildlife, contending the restrictions threaten their property rights and freedom of speech.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Columbus federal court. It comes as the owners face a deadline today to register their creatures with the state.

The owners claim the law forces them to join private associations and possibly give up their animals without compensation. They also contend it unlawfully requires them to perform surgical procedures on the animals.

Under the law, owners must microchip their animals before they register them, so the creatures can be identified if they get lost or escape.

The state had received 80 registrations as of Friday. Officials planned to update the number later this afternoon.

If owners don’t register by today, they could face a first-degree misdemeanor charge for a first offense, and a fifth-degree felony for any subsequent offenses.

A spokeswoman for the agriculture department declined to comment on the lawsuit today.

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