Animal Rights Controversy

Animal rights groups say the state agency that regulates wild and exotic animals in Iowa is misinterpreting a nearly decade-old law that imposes tough rules for keeping such animals, and they argue it’s created a loophole.

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the Washington-based Born Free USA filed documents in February with the Iowa Court of Appeals that contend the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is limiting its own authority in overseeing some facilities that exhibit wildlife.

A 2007 law banned people from keeping such animals, though previous owners were grandfathered in with new rules. The advocacy groups say the department allows certain wildlife exhibitors to register through federal officials instead of following stringent state registration rules.