Local team chosen to respond to dangerous wild animals

If a wild and dangerous animal escapes in Washington County, a team of first responders has been set to handle the problem.

Following the release of exotic animals from a farm near Zanesville in October 2011, Ohio Gov. John Kasich asked for recommendations to be included in a new state law governing the ownership of exotic animals in Ohio. After the release, police and wildlife were forced to kill dozens of lions, tigers, bears and others.

Also included in the new law, which Kasich signed in June 2012, is a requirement that each county establish a Dangerous Wild Animals Emergency Response Team.

At their meeting Thursday, the Washington County Commissioners approved the list of representatives who will serve on the local response team.

The local representatives are: law enforcement, Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks; fire, Marietta Fire Department Chief C.W. Durham; first aid, Chief Mark Wile; EMA, Jeff Lauer; health, Jonni Tucker; media, Roger Sheppard of WTAP in Parkersburg; veterinarian, David Spindler; public nurse, Vickie Kelley; and Humane/Dog Warden, Kelly McGilton; elected official, Jeff Knowlton, Warren Township trustee.

The dangerous wild animal owner spot remains vacant because the county has no known exotic animals.

Wile, 55, of Constitution, serves as chief of the Warren Volunteer Fire Department and president of the Washington County Fire Chiefs Association.

While he doesn’t expect anything close to the magnitude of what happened in Zanesville, it’s always possible to have a wild or exotic animal on the loose in Washington County, he said.

“I guess I felt it was part of what we do whether called for our township or another part of the county. If I can help, I will,” Wile said. “There’s always an opportunity that someone could have a dangerous wild animal here or passing through. We might as well be prepared.”

In other business:

– Washington County’s dog owners officially will have three options when buying dog licenses for 2014.

The one-year license remains at $16. A three-year license will be $48. A permanent license will cost $160. The commissioners approved the rates Thursday during its weekly business meeting.

The three options were mandated in the 2013-14 state budget signed by on June 30 for all of Ohio’s 88 counties.

“We simply set the fees for the three-year and extrapolating that out for the permanent,” said commission president David White.

– Darlene Lukshin of the Ohio State University Extension Office reported the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has resolved an in-kind amount ($2,500) to a property owner for placement of one of three Duck Creek monitors for the early warning flood system.

The flood warning system, in the works since 2005, monitors the level of the creek and determines where flooding will happen. The system also calls residents to warn them of flood conditions via the 911 system.

“We have one rain gauge at Stanleyville, so the Washington County portion is complete,” Lukshin said.