Exotic Pet Rules Eyed

November 04, 1990

If you've wanted to set up your own little zoo in Carroll County, the commissioners have a few new rules to show you.

The rules -- a change in the county's regulations for the caging of captive wild and inherently dangerous animals -- are under review.

During a public hearing last week, the commissioners considered a draft of the new regulations and sent the matter on for further study.

Concern over what to do with llamas, elephants, bulls, or bison was raised earlier this year, when the state's first ostrich-breeding farm began operating just outside of Westminster.

The owner of that farm -- businessman Jack Untener -- has been trying to convince commissioners that some of the provisions pertaining to ostriches are too harsh. And at last week's hearing, Untener told commissioners that a fencing requirement -- now calling for 5-foot chain link fence or high tensile wire -- should be revised, as chain link fencing could be prohibitively expensive.

"I just want to get the regulations down to where, if a farmer wants to get into this business, it's not going to cost him an arm and a leg," Untener said during the 20-minute hearing.

No decisions were made on the 23-page proposed ordinance.

Untener owns four ostriches on his Bixler Church Road farm, and expects them to begin mating this spring. He hopes that his venture into ostrich-breeding will spur others into it as well.

Besides ostriches, the new ordinance would regulate how to cage and enclose gorillas, baboons, jaguars, lions, bears, rhinoceros, leopards, crocodiles, and Komodo dragons, among others. The ordinance also has guidelines on the use of exotic animals for agricultural purposes on county farms.

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