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ALERT: Raleigh

Proposed ban of “dangerous and wild animals”.

In June 2021, an incident occurred in Raleigh in which a zebra cobra (Naja nigricincta) escaped through the negligence of one keeper, Christopher Gifford. In response to this incident legislators from local, to county, to state level sought to tighten restrictions on exotics with the broadest possible brush. North Carolina already has a comprehensive state law regarding specific reptiles, including venomous snakes, with requirements for safe caging, and for protocols for handling, envenomation, and escape. However, that didn’t stop Councilmember David Knight of Raleigh from proposing a ban or extreme regulation against ownership of “dangerous and wild animals” in Raleigh, with similar efforts made at the Wake County level. At that time, the city council referred the topic to their Growth and Natural Resources Committee. Throughout this process “dangerous and wild animals” was not well defined within the scope of the proposal. The Growth and Natural Resources Committee was presented with four option:

  • Option 1: A ban of “dangerous and wild animal” possession unless there is an exemption with no grandfathering
  • Option 2: A ban of future “dangerous and wild animal” possession, but grandfather for those currently in possession pending registration and compliance with proposed requirements. Requirements could include liability insurance and a limit on how many venomous snakes you can own.
  • Option 3: Allowing for “dangerous and wild animal” possession pending registration and compliance with the proposed requirement. Requirements could include liability insurance and a limit on how many venomous snakes you can own.
  • Option 4: Make no change in the city’s ordinances, nor to require registration. The city would continue to abide by state and federal laws.

In January, the committee failed to reach a consensus and decided to send the issue back to the council without a recommendation. In February, the council voted to take up the issue at a later date, but note date was set.

Knight is now rekindling his campaign against Raleigh pet owners and asking the council to make a final decision. He is recommending a ban on the future ownership of “dangerous and wild animals” while grandfathering in possession for those who currently own them. The council now plans to look consider a new ordinance in their June 21 meeting. Councilmembers asked city staff to present options along with their associated costs.

Meeting: Tuesday, June 21 at 1:00

Speakers must register by 5:00 PM on June 20 by using the form at

Remember you must be polite and professional at all times when corresponding with lawmakers.

Talking Points:

1. North Carolina has a comprehensive law regarding certain reptiles, including venomous species. That law is General Statute, Chapter 14, Article 55 titled “Regulation of Certain Reptiles,” and it remains an effective basis for the punishment of irresponsible keepers, and the protection of North Carolina residents.

2. The current state law did not fail! It only fails if the violator is not charged.

3. Article 55 regarding certain reptile species is a common-sense and rational law.

4. A knee-jerk response in legislative action that ignores current law is inappropriate, while unjustly abolishing the right of stakeholders to engage in the legislative process.

5. A ban on reptile keeping would rip away conservation and breeding programs from responsible reptile keepers.

6. Raleigh needs to consider a common-sense approach by working with stakeholders and not an overreaching, knee-jerk ban lacking forethought.

7. Raleigh City Council Members must be properly educated on this matter, and those responsible stakeholders who will be affected, rather than getting caught up in the sensationalism and limelight of an incident.

8. There are logical alternatives to bans. Lawmakers must not turn a blind eye to doing what is right by their constituents.

9. Rather than solving any issues, bans create new problems including incentivizing criminals through an underground, black market and the fear-driven release of non-native animals.

10. Laws that effectively create collective punishment are bad governance. Such approaches are senseless and unjust.