Cat Lovers back two state bills

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The Feline Conservation Federation has rallied behind SF2001 and HB2079, measures that will "put everyone on equal footing" while giving Minnesota authorities tracking information and enforcement power over owners who fail to meet the standards.

A world-wide exotic cat group has rallied behind two bills in Minnesota they say will put a brake on the extinction of wild animals and lead to a better life for those in captivity.

"Both are solid bills," says Lynn Culver, Legal Affairs Director of the Feline Conservation Federation, an international group that fights for good husbandry for cats in captivity and for thoughtful conservation of those in the wild.

The bills are sponsored by Senator Steve Dille, for SF2001, and by Representative Doug Lindgren, for HB2079.

"Both bills address keeping the public safe and making sure the animals are healthy and happy," Culver said. "These standards apply to the normal owner, sanctuaries and to those licensed by the USDA to provide educational ambassadors and breeding stock."

Culver said the measures will "put everyone on equal footing" while giving Minnesota authorities tracking information and enforcement power over owners who fail to meet the standards.

"We think the issues are clear," Culver said. "They are the care of the animals and the safety of the public.

FCF is throwing its weight against an opposing bill -- HB 1530, by Don Betzold -- that some sanctuaries favor.

"These sanctuaries are against you owning exotics," Culver said. "And they resist private captive breeding programs.

"If you own a serval, say, they want you to manage it to extinction. While exempting themselves from any oversight by state authority."

FCF is cooperating with the Minnesota Responsible Animal Owners Association (MRAOA) to impress on legislators the damage HB1530 would do to private conservation efforts.

"Any law that makes good owners give up their felines will put an unbearable burden on sanctuaries that are already overloaded”, Culver said.

The FCF officer points out that most exotic cats weigh less than 30 pounds and live on an unspectacular diet of birds, frogs, and small rodents. "These are not predators that evolved to see humans as prey," she said. "They're smaller than a miniature poodle and are closely related to America's favorite pet, the common cat."

This past Wednesday the House Agriculture Committee heard testimony on Senator Betzold's bill, including statements from many MRAOA members.

At the public hearing Senator Dille proposed amendments to HB1530 to allow concessions for USDA licensed facilities.

"I'm pleased that legislators are beginning to understand the importance of private captive husbandry," Culver said. "But until they protect the ownership rights of the many responsible individual owners, our organization cannot and will not support this bill."

The Feline Conservation Federation will continue to rally, she said, behind legislators who back bills like SF1001 and HB2079 so that conservation of endangered species can continue in Minnesota.

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