Politics & Government
3:17 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Bear cub petting zoo bill headed to Governor Snyder’s desk

Governor Rick Snyder will have final say on a bill that would let tourists handle and take pictures with bear cubs. The state Senate today approved changes made by the House last week.

The bill would let the public handle cubs up to 36 weeks old or less than 90 pounds.

Some lawmakers worried the measure would lead to a surge of new bear petting zoos across the state looking to cash in on the experience.

But lawmakers in the state House last week limited the bill so it would only apply to businesses already offering bear petting.

Bill sponsor Senator Tom Casperson had opposed the change, but says it was necessary to get enough votes in the House.

“We thought we were being reasonable with those that might have objections that we’re not running around trying to expand this operation. That was a big question that kept being asked.”

Critics of the bill say the operations are not safe for humans or bears.

Democratic state Senator Steve Bieda voted against the bill. But he says he’s happy about the new limits.

“I think that alleviates the issue of a profusion of bear petting in the state of Michigan. But I still have some major concerns with both the operation of it and the theory behind it. I think it is actually quite dangerous – both to people and to animals – and that’s why I voted against it.”

Supporters of the bill say the operation is completely safe to both humans and bears.

The governor vetoed similar legislation last year because it included separate measures he opposed. His office says he supports the new legislation and expects to sign it.

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