Jackson Co. considers banning exotic animal shows

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – We may be seeing fewer elephants, tigers and bears passing through Jackson County. That’s if Jackson County commissioners pass a new law, putting stricter rules on exotic animals coming in for shows.

No one wants to see the animals harmed, but the economic impact could be something the entire community feels.

Dee Perez with the Jackson County Animal Control Advisory Committee said, “With traveling circuses, the welfare of the animal, their basic needs, their veterinary care, their exercise are not met—very often neglected—and their lives are painful.”

Tuesday, a task group met with Jackson County commissioners to discuss a possible law limiting exotic animals to Jackson County.

Perez explained, “The biggest issues are there are no good ways to control large animals, to train large animals to do tricks that humans find entertaining.”

The animals are often controlled with bullhooks, electric shocks and whips—things most of the task force agrees they want gone.

“The intent not to harm animals and to not let that happen in Jackson County, that is very good,” Perez said.

Helen Funk with the Jackson County Expo agreed that no animals should be harmed, but says it’s difficult for the county to enforce. She said, “It’s also hard for me at the same time to decide which of the groups that come through The Expo actually use these humane measures and if I thought they Didn’t, I Wouldn’t bring them.”

Fewer shows would mean less revenue for The Expo. Right now, Funk estimates The Expo would lose around $50,000 to $80,000 annually if the ordinance passed, but that’s just the direct impact. “The systemic effect that goes out to your media that support those shows, the hotels that support those shows,” Funk said. “So the systemic effect is actually bigger.”

The discussion is not over. Now, the group is going to the fair board to see what they would like to do.

While Funk likes hosting animal shows, to her it comes down to finding ways to enforce the ban. She said, “If you say you’re going to put a ban into effect then you need to support that monetarily with enforcement. And if it doesn’t have the bandwidth to be enforced, then it won’t matter.”

The discussion is ongoing. This is just the early phases of the process. There’s no word on when or if commissioners could vote on the issue.

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