Ted Nugent blames Ohio governor for lax animal law

Detroit News
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Karen Bouffard, Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Ted Nugent has a bone to pick with Ohio Gov. John Kasich over an exotic animal escape near Zanesville that captivated the nation Wednesday.

The Motor City Madman and conservation activist monitored the situation from a hunting cabin on his 1,200-acre Jackson County farm, and said Kasich was to blame for failing to ban exotic animal ownership.

"I'm going to make a call to Gov. Kasich because he (ended) an executive order by the previous governor that did prohibit and control wild animal ownership," Nugent told The Detroit News on Wednesday. "These are real, wild, dangerous, capable and dangerous animals and they belong in the wild."

Many residents of the rural community about 55 miles east of Columbus expressed fear Wednesday after the owner of an exotic game preserve freed scores of animals before committing suicide.

Deputies were reported to have killed nearly 50 animals by late Wednesday afternoon, including 18 tigers and 17 lions, with half a dozen more delivered to the Columbus Zoo.

The incident occurred amid controversy over bills that passed in the Michigan Senate last week and are under review in the House to amend the state's Large Carnivore Act. Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg, said the bills would make it harder to bring exotic species into Michigan — but critics including Detroit Zoo Director Ron Kagan say the legislation would lower standards.

"We have a law in Michigan that would prevent a gentleman like this from operating today," Hune said. "My bills would make it more difficult to bring exotic animals in — for one thing they'd have to be microchipped."

Said Nugent: "I think it's a downright tragedy when people attempt to keep dangerous wild animals in captivity — I think it should be criminal."

Asked if there are any wild animals on his Jackson County spread, the Guitar Wildman said there's just one.

"I'm the only dangerous carnivore on the property as we speak," Nugent said. "And I'm totally controlled by Mrs. Nugent."