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4 owners sue state over new exotic animal law

COLUMBUS — Four owners of exotic animals in Ohio are suing the state's agriculture department and its director over a new law regulating the dangerous wildlife.

The owners claim the law threatens their property rights and freedom of speech. They say it forces them to join private associations and possibly give up their animals without compensation. They also contend it unlawfully forces them to perform surgical procedures on the animals.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Columbus federal court.

Under the law, owners face a Monday deadline to register their wildlife. If they don't, they could face a first-degree misdemeanor charge for a first offense, and a fifth-degree felony for any subsequent offenses.

Owners also are required to microchip their animals so they can be identified if they get lost or escape.

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