A “Dangerous Wild Animal Response” team will be formed after Delaware County commissioners approved a resolution at their meeting Monday.
State law requires all 88 counties to form such a team. “The Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal State Emergency Response Commission has requested that each board of county commissioners nominate members for their respective county’s initial DWART,” states the resolution.
“This became a requirement for counties to do,” said Sean Miller, director of the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency, during the meeting. “You’ll recall the incidents in Muskingum County that prompted all this.”
In October 2011, Terry Thompson set free 56 wild animals before committing suicide. Law enforcement killed 48 of the animals.
“The animal care specialists from the Columbus Zoo and the Wilds were called upon to assist with the animals that survived the release of exotic animals in Zanesville in October 2011,” said zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Wilson in a statement. “They provided expertise and resources to save the remaining animals. Since that time, officials from the state of Ohio have called upon the zoo to assist with ensuring the welfare of the animals cared for by the state.”
“They have provided a lot of information to us,” Miller said of the Powell-based zoo. “They have supported this team, and they’re great partners.”
The next year, Gov. John Kasich signed into law tougher ownership requirements and licensing for exotic animals.
“Part of this process requires certain animals to be registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture or Ohio Department of Natural Resources,” Miller said.
Miller said the team will create a response plan with the sheriff’s office in the event of a dangerous wild animal release.
“We have reviewed the plan, and we will be submitting that, along with an updated list, to the state this spring,” Miller said.
Members of the team will be from the fields of law enforcement, fire, first aid, emergency management and health, as well as elected officials. Two members from the Columbus Zoo will also be on the team.
In other business, commissioners approved supplemental appropriations for the EMA’s summer internship program.
Commissioners also approved an amendment to the sanitary sewer improvement plan for Verona Section 1, so it could be completed in time for the 2016 BIA Parade of Homes. Twenty homes’ sewage lines will be “plugged to ensure that wastewater is securely contained and does not unlawfully discharge,” states the subdivider’s agreement.
The Parade of Homes will take place July 16-31 at Verona, between Powell and Seldom Seen roads, near the zoo.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.