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Detailed Discussion of New Hampshire Great Ape Laws



Erin Furman


Animal Legal & Historical Center
Publish Date:
2012
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law

Printable Version

I. Introduction

In the state of New Hampshire, there is no specific law that contains an outright ban on private ownership of great apes.  However, there are laws that address the importation and possession of wildlife.  In order to possess, purchase, or import a great ape, an individual must obtain an exhibitor’s permit from the USDA.

New Hampshire has laws that address endangered species, animal cruelty, and the importation and possession of wildlife.  State animal cruelty laws are broad and sweeping, including all domestic animals, household pets, and wild animals in captivity. NH Rev. Stat. 644:8.  The Endangered Species Conservation Act includes protections for great apes by referencing the federal list of endangered and threatened species, which includes great apes. NH Rev. Stat. 212-A:1-15.

Importation and possession of great apes is an area that is strictly regulated under New Hampshire law.  In order to import or possess a great ape, an individual must possess a permit issued by the USDA. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 803.06; N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 804.05.  As defined under the statute, exhibitors must be engaged in displaying the animal for public viewing. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 801.07.

II. How Different Uses of Great Apes are Affected by Law

A. Private Possession of Great Apes

Private possession of great apes in New Hampshire is limited to those who possess an exhibitor’s permit issued by the USDA. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 804.05.  An “exhibitor” as defined under New Hampshire law includes only those who possess a USDA-issued permit and are engaged in “showing, displaying or training” wildlife for public viewing. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 801.07.  In effect, although no laws address having a great ape as a pet, these regulations are intended to prevent any private individual from keeping a great ape in their home.  However, while possession in New Hampshire is limited to USDA Class C licenses, this does not necessarily mean that apes are not kept as pets.  Exhibitors can renew their USDA Class C licenses based on a self-declaration of their intent to exhibit the animal, rather than proof of actual exhibition.  This may enable certain licensed exhibitors to circumvent state laws or local ordinances prohibiting private possession of apes. (For more on this, see AWA Discussion.)

B. Possession by Roadside and Traditional Zoos

New Hampshire does not have a specific law that addresses possession by roadside or traditional zoos.  Because there is no state statute on point, all federal rules and regulations apply.  Under federal law, in order to have a great ape in a roadside or traditional zoo, individuals must have a USDA Class C license.

C. Sanctuaries

There are no state laws in New Hampshire that specifically address great ape sanctuaries.  All applicable federal laws and regulations regarding animal sanctuaries apply to those in New Hampshire.

D. Scientific Testing and Research Facilities

There are no state laws in New Hampshire that specifically address great apes used in scientific testing and research facilities.  All applicable federal laws and regulations for research facilities apply in the state.  However, as great apes are not used in testing in the United States, this is not an issue.

II. State Laws Affecting Great Apes in New Hampshire

A. Importation and Possession of Wildlife

New Hampshire’s chapter on fish and game laws, the state has enacted a section dealing with the import, possession, or release of wildlife. N.H. Rev. Stat. 207:14.  This section requires all persons to obtain a permit before they may import, possess, sell, or exhibit any wildlife.  It also enables the director to establish a permit system to import wildlife, which is done through administrative codes 803 and 804, which are discussed in more detail below.  Further, the director may refuse to issue a permit if it poses a risk to any person, wildlife, or the environment.

i. Importation

In New Hampshire, an individual must have a permit in order to import an animal. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 803.06.  Different species require different types of permits (numbered from 1 to 7).  Specific species are placed into a “permittee category” that indicates the type of permit required to import them. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 804.05.  Great apes are lumped together with monkeys under the broader category “primates.”  Primates fall under permittee category 5 and include the chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, baboon, spider monkey, squirrel monkey, capuchin, and rhesus. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 803.06.

Section 802.01 of the New Hampshire code limits permittee category 5 to exhibitors. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 802.01.  The definitions section of the statute further limits “exhibitors” to any person “engaged in the showing, displaying or training of wildlife for the purpose of public viewing.” N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 801.07.

This means that in order to import a great ape into the state of New Hampshire, an individual must be licensed as an exhibitor by the USDA and follow all other applicable state and federal laws regarding the housing and keeping of great apes.

ii. Possession

To possess a great ape in New Hampshire, an individual must have a USDA-issued exhibitor’s permit. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 804.05

The New Hampshire statute governing possession of great apes closely resembles the state law addressing importation of great apes.  Species of animals in New Hampshire are placed into a “permittee category” that indicates the type of permit required to possess them. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 804.05.  Primates fall under permittee category 5 and include the chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, baboon, spider monkey, squirrel monkey, capuchin, marmoset, guenon, celebes macaque, and rhesus.  Under the permittee categories, great apes are thus lumped together with monkeys and other species of lesser primates. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 804.05.

Section 802.01 of the New Hampshire code limits permittee category 5 to exhibitors. N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 802.01.  The definitions section of the statute further limits “exhibitors” to any person “engaged in the showing, displaying or training of wildlife for the purpose of public viewing.” N.H. Code Admin. R. Fis 801.07.

This means that in order to possess a great ape in the state of New Hampshire, an individual must be licensed as an exhibitor by the USDA and follow all other applicable state and federal laws regarding the housing and keeping of great apes.

B. Endangered Species

As a federally-recognized endangered species, great apes in New Hampshire are entitled to protections under the Endangered Species Conservation Act (ESCA). NH Rev. Stat. 212-A:1 - 15.  As defined in the Act, “wildlife” includes any non-domesticated animal, which includes great apes. NH Rev. Stat. 212-A:2.  All species designated as threatened or endangered by the Endangered Species Act are afforded certain protections under the ESCA.

According to the ESCA, it is unlawful for an person to take, transport, possess, or sell endangered wildlife. NH Rev. Stat. 212-A:7.  The ban is subject to exceptions, however, which includes category 5 permittees with a USDA-issued license to transport or possess primates.

Despite the classification of great apes as endangered species and the ban on transporting, possessing, or selling endangered species, exhibitors licensed by the USDA may still import or possess great apes.

C. Cruelty to Animals

New Hampshire prohibits cruelty to animals. NH Rev. Stat. 644:8.  “Animal” is defined broadly under the anti-cruelty statute to include any domestic animal, household pet, or wild animal in captivity.  Great apes are protected by the anti-cruelty law by the inclusion of wild animals in captivity in the definition of animal in the statute.

“Cruelty” as defined by the statute includes acts—or failures to act—that are detrimental to the “health, safety, or welfare of any animal.” NH Rev. Stat. 644:8.  This includes abandoning or neglecting an animal.

Veterinarians that aid in an animal cruelty investigation are protected from civil and criminal liability. NH Rev. Stat. 644:8.  There is no such exception, however, for exhibitors of primates.  All great apes in the state of New Hampshire are protected under the anti-cruelty statute from intentional acts resulting in harm and a failure to act that is detrimental to the animal’s health, safety, or welfare.

III. Conclusion

Private individuals cannot own, import, or possess great apes in the state of New Hampshire.  Only those who obtain an exhibitor permit from the USDA may import or possess a great ape, and they must have the animal on display for public viewing.  All great apes in the state are afforded additional protections as endangered species and under animal cruelty laws.

 

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