U.S. Sen. James Jeffords Introduces Captive Primate Safety Act

U.S. Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.) recently introduced the Captive Primate Safety Act in the U.S. Senate.

The bill, which parallels a similar House of Representatives bill introduced last year, would add primates to a federal list of wildlife species that private individuals are prohibited from owning.

The bill is clearly motivated by recent, highly publicized attacks by captive primates, such as that at Animal Haven Ranch where two chimpanzees were shot and killed in March after they mauled a visitor to the ranch.

In announcing his bill, for example, Jeffords said,

The Captive Primate Safety Act is a common sense solution to a potentially very serious problem. Monkeys, chimpanzees, and other nonhuman primates can be dangerous if not cared for properly and can pose an even greater risk to our public health as carriers of dangerous diseases. Our legislations is need to help federal agencies control and monitor these species within our borders.

But this argument, if you’ll pardon the pun, appears to be specious. In a press release lauding the bill, for example, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that are 15,000 primates currently in private hands. But the best estimate of injuries caused by those animals is 100 over the last 10 years.

Compare that to estimates of the number of injuries from dog bites. A 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that dog bites accounted for more than 300,000 visits to the emergency room annually. That’s more than 900 visits every single day to the emergency room nationwide due to dog bites.

And since Jeffords is so concerned about children, it should be noted that the bulk of victims of dog bites are minors. The median age of dog bite victims in the 1998 study was just 15 years.

Perhaps if the HSUS and Jeffords really want to get rid of a dangerous animal that targets children, they’ll first push a Captive Canine Safety Act first and then turn their attention to the extremely small safety problem posed by captive primates.

The full text of the proposed Captive Primate Safety Act can be read here.

Senate Bill Introduced to Restrict Pet Trade in Monkeys, Chimpanzees. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, July 27, 2005.

Incidence of Dog Bite Injuries Treated in Emergency Departments. Harold B. Weiss, MS, MPH; Deborah I. Friedman; Jeffrey H. Cohen, MD. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1998, V.279, No.1, pp.51-3.

Woman Accused of Faking Internet Harassment

Bess Carney, 27, made national news in January after being accused of a strange fake Internet harassment scheme.

The Vermont woman is accused of setting up an e-mail account in the name of a former co-worker after said co-worker began dating one of Carney’s friends. Carney allegedly then used the e-mail account to send herself harassing and bizarre e-mails. She then forwarded the e-mails on to other associates to make it look like her former co-worker was unstable and harassing her.

Carney apparently also reported to police that the former co-worker was harassing her via e-mail.

As a result of all this, she was arrested in January and charged with charged with one felony county of identity theft for allegedly pretending to be the former co-worker in the e-mails, along with misdemeanor charges of filing a false police report and unauthorized computer access. She faces up to 3 years in jail and a $5,000 fine on the felon identity theft charge, and up to six months in jail and a $500 fine on each of the misdemeanor charges.

Carney plead not guilty to all charges.


Woman said to have using co-worker’s e-mail to make fake threats. Associated Press, January 28, 2005.

Burlington, VT Adopts Anti-Circus Measure

On September 7 the Burlington, Vermont, City Council adopted an anti-circus ordinance that bans the public display of wildlife. This follows an earlier ordinance that prohibited the display of wildlife on property owned by the city.

The ordinance was largely the work of animal rights activist Gary Kowalski, who sits on the board of directors of the Vermont-based animal rights group Green Mountain Animal Defenders. Kowalski successfully pushed for a ban on public displays of wildlife on city-owned property earlier this year, and followed up that success by pushing a general city-wide ban on such acts.

In the end, 10 of the 14 members of the Burlington, Vermont, City Council voted for the new ordinance

The full text of the new ordinance can be read here.

Vermont Legislature Sends Animal Cruelty Bill to Governor

More than a year after the Vermont House and Senate approved separate bills making animal cruelty a felony, the two legislative bodies this month finally approved a conference committee report sending animal cruelty legislation on to Vermont Gov. James H. Douglas.

The bill would amend Vermont law to create the crime of aggravated animal cruelty defined as anyone who,

(1) kills an animal by intentionally causing the animal undue pain or suffering; or

(2) intentionally, maliciously, and without just cause tortures, mutilates, or cruelly beats an animal.

In Vermont it has long been a felony to kill an animal by intentionally causing it undue pain or suffering, but causing suffering without killing the animal was only considered as a misdemeanor. Now, beating, torturing or mutilating an animal can be charged as felonies even if the animal is not killed as a result of the cruelty.

The full text of the proposed changes to Vermont’s animal cruelty laws can be read here.