Bill would regulate exotic animal sales

The Agriculture Committee heard testimony Jan. 28 on a bill that would redefine and expand the state’s authority to regulate exotic animal sales in Nebraska.

North Platte Sen. Tom Hansen, sponsor of LB884, said the bill would more closely regulate the type of livestock animals being sold, purchased, bartered or otherwise transferred through exotic animal auctions or swap meets.

“LB884 is an attempt to be proactive in protecting the health and safety of Nebraska’s livestock,” Hansen said.

LB884 would create the Exotic Animal Auctions and Swap Meets Act and would define an exotic animal as one that is not commonly sold through licensed livestock auction markets pursuant to the Livestock Auction Market Act. The definition would include miniature cattle, horses and donkeys as well as sheep, goats, alpaca, llamas and pot-bellied pigs.

The bill would require exotic animal auctions or swap meets to register with the state Department of Agriculture in the same manner as livestock markets and retain or contract with a licensed accredited veterinarian to be available during each sale.

The bill also would require each animal that changes ownership to be accompanied by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, which would indicate that the animal has been subject to veterinary inspection within 30 days of change of ownership.

Greg Ibach, director of the state Department of Agriculture, testified in support of the bill. Approximately 20 different sites host exotic animal exchanges in Nebraska, he said, with a total of around 90 events per year. The department’s concern is prevention of disease transfer, Ibach said.

Bruce Brodersen of the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association also supported the bill, saying many of the exotic animal species can carry agents that also can infect humans.

Brodersen referenced the 2003 outbreak of “monkeypox,” which was transferred from Gambian rats to prairie dogs and then to humans, noting that one suspected case of the disease occurred in Nebraska. He said LB884 would improve the state’s ability to track and trace animal transport in the state.

“We believe passage of this bill will help reduce the spread of disease,” Brodersen said.

Jeremy Van Boening of the Nebraska Cattlemen agreed. He said many animals purchased at exotic animal sales – especially sheep and goats – often are comingled with livestock animals.

“The great concern we have as cattlemen is the spread of potentially devastating disease,” Van Boening said.

No opposition testimony was given and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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