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Explanatory Memorandum to Dangerous Wild Animals (Northern Ireland) Order 2004

Main Elements of the Order

18.The proposed Order in Council will

  • require any person wishing to keep a dangerous wild animal (DWA), as defined in the Schedule to the Order, to obtain a licence from the Department prior to taking ownership of the animal. A licence will be valid for a period of 12 months or such longer period as the Department shall determine. The keeping of a DWA without a licence will be an offence;

  • prohibit the sale of a DWA to any person who is not the current holder of a licence. The sale of a DWA to any person without a licence will be an offence;

  • require the Department to perform a range of checks on any application (i.e. about the applicant, the accommodation and the conditions in which the animal will be kept) before granting a licence. As part of the appraisal process, the Department will be required to receive a report from a veterinary surgeon or other person deemed suitably competent by the Department;

  • require the Department to set a number of mandatory conditions for any licence which it may grant. These will relate to matters such as the welfare of the animal; the person or persons entitled to keep the animal; the number and type of animals which can be kept; and, the place where the animal is to be kept. The Department will also be free to apply other conditions as it sees fit;

  • provide applicants with a right to appeal to a magistrate’s court against any decision by the Department to refuse a licence or against any conditions imposed on the grant of a licence;

  • create an offence where the requirements of a licence are not complied with;

  • give the Department powers of entry and inspection for the purposes of assessing an application or determining if the requirements of the legislation or of an existing licence are being complied with;

  • give the Department powers to seize any animal where the requirements of the legislation, or of a licence, are not being complied with. The Department will also be given powers to destroy a seized animal (under veterinary supervision) or otherwise dispose of it;

  • give owners a right of appeal within 21 days to a magistrate’s court against seizure and prohibit the Department from destroying or otherwise disposing of a seized animal before the appeal has been determined;

  • establish penalties for any person found guilty of not complying with the requirements of the legislation. Courts will be given power to cancel existing licences or to disqualify any such person from keeping dangerous wild animals;

  • provide transitional arrangements for existing owners to make arrangements to apply for a licence;

  • provide transitional arrangements to allow existing owners to surrender DWAs to the Department;

  • provide for the legislation to come into operation by way of a Commencement Order to ensure that all administrative provisions and capacity are in place to ensure public safety.

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