At their next meeting, Highlands East council will discuss an animal control by-law.

The township’s Bylaw Enforcement Officer Kristen Boylan put forward the recommendation at the January 19th meeting.

She says this is a precautionary measure after two people moved to neighbouring Hastings Highlands and opened an exotic animal zoo. 

Boylan noted that Ontario is the only province in Canada with exotic animal legislation. “At this time there is no Provincial Legislation or regulations in place to prevent a citizen from keeping an exotic animal in Ontario unless under Municipal By-law. Each Municipality must enact a by-law to define the exotic animal species and either prohibit, regulate, licence and/or all of the above within their by-law,” she added.

“In Hastings Highlands there is talk of a roadside zoo safari experience being planned by residents and big cat owners on Peterson Road,” she said in her recommendation. Boylan adds that she has heard reports the zoo has caused “fear among not only nearby neighbours but the general public.”

CBC News reported in November that Mark and Tammy Drysdale were moving from Lambton Shores to Maynooth after a fight with their neighbours in the former municipality over whether or not they should be allowed to have a collection of 10 big cats on their property.

“Private individuals simply owning exotic animals does not contravene any existing municipal bylaw,” Hastings Highlands Mayor Vic Bodnar said in November in response to residents calling on council to take action. “No commercial use involving exotic animals has been created on any property and there is no application to do so before the Municipality. The municipality will follow the advice of its lawyer.”

Highlands East council meets next on February 9th. Boylan tells the newsroom the by-law will be discussed during the meeting.