California ferreting

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Wed Sep 29 16:51:03 EDT 2004

Charlie said...

> No wonder ferrets were on Helen's mind - I just heard on the radio that
> is about to repeal a law that bans ferrets as domestic pets in the state -
all that can
> stop it now is Arnie's veto! Apparently there are half a million ferrets
currently living
> in the state illegally.

Oddly enough, we've just been having a discussion about that Californian law
an another list I'm on.  Apparently you may not (currently) keep ferrets in
California, as they are supposedly inimical to the local ecosystem.
However, provided you obtain the necessary licence, you may quite happily
keep a tiger as a pet.  One of our (California-resident) listmembers went to
the trouble of contacting the local animal control department to try to find
out the rationale here.  Below is the transcript he posted to the list of
his conversation (reposted here with his permission):
> Ferrets are illegal, but you can keep tigers?

Apparently so.

Ferrets are just a big No No here in Sunny California, but--with permits
(I checked)--you can keep tigers (and lions and bears, oh my!) as long
as they are properly caged, chained, or otherwise restrained.

 >>Also wouldn't an escaped
tiger have a slightly worse effect on the local wildlife, moggies, kids, etc
than a ferret? <<

You would think so, wouldn't you?

I called the animal control department to ask about that. Their first
reply was this:

"You want to keep a tiger in your house? You'll need a permit for that,

After I'd explained that no, I didn't want a tiger and was only asking
*why* tigers are legal, with permits, but ferrets are not, with or
without permits, I got this reply:

"The State of California decided that ferrets presented too great a
danger to the natural enviornment to allow them as pets."

So I pointed out that tigers, being rather large and carnivorous, would
probably eat the neighborhood whereas a ferret would just find a place
to hide--and, not being able to find any food it could it eat, die. To
this the young lady replied with the following:

"Domesticated tigers are not known to be predatory, sir."

So, being Fred--and having a rather strange sense of humor--I reminded
her of the tiger which tried to eat one half of Sigfreid and Roy. A
so-called 'domesticated' tiger, no less. To which she came back with this:

"That happened in Nevada, sir, not California."

I wondered if Californian tigers are less predatory and carnivorous than
tigers from Nevada.

"I wouldn't know, sir."

And I answered with: "I've never heard of a ferret trying to eat a
magician anywhere in the US, much less the rest of the world."

She said:

"Ferrets breed much more rapidly than tigers, sir. A breeding population
would cause severe damage to the enviornment."

So I pointed out, again, that there is nothing--or very little--in 'the
wild' in California that ferrets would eat or, even if they did, survive
on for very long. Certainly not long enough to find another ferret,
especially one of the opposite sex, and start breeding like, well,
ferrets. Her wisdom in the matter was truly astounding, as evidenced by

"And what would a tiger eat, sir?"

My reply? This: "Oh, I dunno. The nearest grade school maybe?"

I think she was a little fed up with me. She hung up.
So there you go.


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