Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ketchum passes law to ban exotic animals from performing

Hailey leaders maintain approval of summer circus

Express Staff Writers

    The Ketchum City Council voted unanimously Monday to establish as law an amendment to city code that will disallow the use of traveling non-domestic and exotic animals from performing in circuses in the city. The final approval came after the third public reading of the legislation.
    According to a staff report from the second reading, Councilor Anne Corrock requested that “language referring to camels, bison, llamas, etc. be excluded and include animals with a successful history of non-violent domestication.” This amendment to the ordinance still stands.
    Council President Michael David told Sage School students—who brought the plight of traveling circus animals to the council’s attention last month—that “they had much work to do in neighboring cities.” The students are trying to enact similar legislation in cities throughout the county. They maintain that exotic animals such as elephants, lions and tigers are routinely abused in traveling shows and circuses.
    Ketchum resident Maya Burrell, who has been assisting the students with the initiative, told the council, “You will be the first city in the state of Idaho, as well as Nevada and Wyoming, to pass this protection of exotic animals.”
    Some members of the public expressed disapproval of the city’s action. Ketchum resident Mickey Garcia said council members are “liberal fascists” and that they were ignoring the animal abuse that occurred in the valley on a daily basis.
    Brennan Rego asked City Attorney Stephanie Bonney how much time and money had been spent to prepare the ordinance.
    “About an hour of my time,” Bonney said, which amounted to “about $175.”
    Interim City Administrator Ray Silver said “hardly any staff time had been spent on this.”

Hailey denies students’ proposal
    Meanwhile, the Hailey City Council on Monday denied a request by Sage School students, parents and supporters to rescind a permit for Jordan World Circus to perform at the Hailey Rodeo Arena this summer, saying the students should instead mount a campaign to bring the issue before Hailey voters.
    “This issue is bigger than this council,” said Councilman Pat Cooley.
    Hailey City Attorney Ned Williamson offered to help write a petition that would create a ballot initiative for the students’ cause, at no cost.

This issue is bigger than this council.”
Pat Cooley
Hailey City Council

     The students and their adult supporters have sought to have the city enact a prohibition on traveling exotic animals, which would in effect prohibit a circus like Jordan World Circus, from setting up in Hailey, just as they did in Ketchum.
    “You’ve got the right crusade,” said Councilwoman Martha Burke, who nevertheless said she could not deny the circus permit because it conforms to city and state laws.
    Burke and others on the council suggested that the students form an educational campaign about the alleged cruelty that is required to train circus animals, followed by a ballot initiative that would prohibit exotic circus animals from being brought into the city.
    The council expressed unanimous concern for the students’ cause, but said that denying a permit would only allow Jordan World Circus to set up in another town, and would not benefit the animals in the long run.
    They said a ballot initiative—similar to one started by Wood River High School students two years ago to ban plastic bags—would be more effective, since it would educate the public.
     The bag ban initiative did not pass with voters.
    Mayor Fritz Haemmerle cited a recent case brought by animal-rights advocates against Ringling Brothers Circus, which he said illustrated challenges faced when dealing with such a “broad issue.”
    “They (animal rights advocates) gave it their best shot and were tagged out on a $25 million judgment,” Haemmerle said.
    “We support you getting this issue to the people,” he said.

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