JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — A local committee was unable to collect enough signatures for its voter initiative JACK 19-02 which would have allowed Jackson County residents to vote to ban the ‘display of wild and exotic animals’ like those which occur in circuses.
The Committee to Protect Wild and Exotic Animals collected over 3,800 signatures from registered voters in hopes of securing a spot on the May 2021 ballot, but it was 2,000 signatures short of its goal.
The committee’s chief petitioner Alissa Weaver said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic played a role in it not reaching its goal.
“COVID made it very difficult, we weren’t able to canvas, but even in light of that we were still able to get that many people that wanted to sign, it was a bipartisan effort, we had democrats’, republicans’ people of all walks of life were interested in this, we had elected officials, we had homeless people that had a general delivery as their address but it shows people feel passionate about this,” Weaver said about the support the initiative received.
Weaver explained the State of Oregon may implement a statewide ban on performances of wild and exotic animals for entertainment purposes but stated if it does not put a ban in place the committee will act.
“If the statewide effort happens then there is no need to address this in Jackson County, however after the next legislative session if it’s not able to be enacted, then we will start all over again,” she said.
Weaver noted there are similar bans currently in effect in other counties in the state.
“The good thing is that there are states which have banned similar animal use, and we have counties in Oregon which have done that as well, including Benton and Multnomah county,” Weaver said. “Clatsop county has banned the use of the bullhook which is the tool they use to punish and discipline an elephant.”
Several states have completely banned the use of wild animals in circusesincluding California, Hawaii, and New Jersey.
Weaver said the amount of support Jackson County residents have shared with the committee gives her hope that a ban is in the future for the county.
“I am feeling really positive about the effort and I want to thank all of the volunteers, the residents, and everyone who supported it,” Weaver said as she smiled. “People in Jackson County support this, they are not willing to accept this kind of behavior, we care about animals.”
by Ambar Rodriguez – News 10, Oregon