Local News

Red tape forcing man to give up pet bobcat

Posted May 16, 2008

— Nero isn't the everyday house cat. But the 30-pound bobcat calls La Grange his home, where he stays with his owner, Tim Seaman.

"I've had cats all my life, really domestic cats, and I wanted to do something to take it to another level, I guess," Seaman said.

So, in October 2006, he bought Nero from a licensed breeder in Montana, spent thousands of dollars building a regulation cage and applied for state and federal permits to keep and exhibit his cat at his Lenoir County home.

Recently, however, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission told Seaman that Nero has to go to a zoo in Wilmington.

State wildlife officials won't specifically discuss Seaman's case, but they say that, in general, it is against the law for people to keep native wildlife as pets.

"I really think it's a disgrace," Seaman said.

People can apply for a captivity permit to keep animals native to North Carolina, but wildlife officials say those usually only go to educational facilities, such as zoos and habitat sanctuaries.

"It's kind of a discriminatory thing against private individuals, saying 'We're not going to issue any permits,'" Seaman said.

The state cites concerns over disease and safety as reasons to limit ownership of native animals. Seaman argues that Nero had to be cleared of any health problems before he crossed state lines.

He says wildlife officials have never visited his home for an inspection.

"I mean, it's nothing more really than a large house cat or domestic cat, even though he is wild," he said.

Seaman has appealed the wildlife commission's decision that Nero has to go. He says he'll find out early next week if Nero can stay.

North Carolina is one of nine states that do not prohibit residents from owning exotic animals that are "inherently dangerous." Dozens of communities, however, have their own rules and ordinances.

A proposed state law that would ban the ownership of some exotic animals is in a legislative committee. It would prohibit big cats, bears, wolves, monkeys, apes, hyenas and alligators, among others.

Small zoos with federal certification would be exempt, though they would have to hold multimillion-dollar insurance policies.


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  • tseaman May 20, 2008

    Lastly, after all of the work I done getting the cage facility ready and spending over $2500 on it. They never made any attempt to come to the site to approve or deny the cage. They really never made any attempt to contact me or the Wildlife officer during the entire time. The only information that was passed to him was through me and that was obtained from going to the commission myself bc they would not return my phone calls. After all the hell and expense they put me through, it was easier for them to just regard the situation as a nonissue, conficate the cat and go on with life. I thought they worked for a commission that was supposed to be concerned with the welfare of wildlife. Maybe I'm just missing something here. I have over $7000 in this animal in total including thousands in vet bills. He is healthy, well taken care of and is like a child to me. I hope that they will take this matter into consideration for once and decide what is best for the animal and it isn't a zoo.

  • tseaman May 20, 2008

    they also sent me back and forth between two individuals up there saying that they didn't have the athority basically to appove the permit. By this time, I was wondering who approved permits and what was going on up there. It is really a big mess and I think they like playing the waiting game hoping that the issue will go away so they don't have to deal with it. I am disgusted with the State Wildlife Commission and I feel that this should shed light on the inter workings of the organization bc I am not the only one having these issues with them. Established facilities have the same issue for the same reason, they want to get paid and DO NOTHING FOR IT!!! It's time for a restucturing and so get some employees in there who want a job and keep the ones who want to work. These are our tax dollars at work folks!!!!

  • tseaman May 20, 2008

    A week later after several calls I didn't get any response. Next, I went to Raleigh, walked into the permit guys office and sat down. I don't think he ever looked me in the eye the entire 10 minutes he was willing to spend with me. He told me that he thought a decision was made and I couldn't keep him and I needed to see his boss but he was on vacation. I e-mailed his boss and I recieved a response back a few weeks later that I probably wouldn't be approved because he looked like a pet, I got a ticket, and I wasn't an existing facitily. Then i was contacted by the wildlife officer who told me that Nero had to go to the zoo. A few more weeks went by and I inquired about the denial and if I was to receive anything from them about it. I received a letter in the mail a few days later stating that I was denied bc I didn't have an import permit which they stopped me from receiving bc they told the state that I was going to be approved. Their next argument was that I got the ticket for having

  • tseaman May 20, 2008

    Thank you for all of your comments. I contacted the state before I got Nero and they would never return my phone calls. I thought that since he was from Montana that he would not be considered native to NC. The State Vet placed him under quarentine at my house and I thought everything would be ok until I got my exhibitor license but I was wrong. A few months ago on a Sunday night at 10 p.m. 2 game officals and a wildlife biologist stood in my doorway asking if I owned a bobcat. They didn't confiscate him, but they were wanting to take him away at that time. I was asked to complete my facility and then I would be given a permit along with the citation I received for not having a permit at that time. I explained that their department didn't care before I got him so why am I getting a ticket now. The response: they are just too busy in Raleigh to help you basically. When I inquired about my permit i was told that a meeting was scheduled in a few days and I would be notified of the outcome

  • hbh0326 May 19, 2008

    Please go to http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-nero-bobcat/signatures.html to sign a petition to save Nero from being taken.

  • oldschooltarheel May 19, 2008

    choirgirl - it wouldn't be that way, with sheeple bleating that the "state" shudda "taken care of it" if the weaklings of the litter weren't coddled by the state & made to believe they could whine & cry & the "state" would meet all their needs. Lack of autonomy & personal responsibility driven by ever increasing government intrusion/legislation is the source of the problem. Wish the "state" was as good with apprehension/enforcement of illegal aliens & drunks as they are with this man who procured permits & built proper housing for his animal. Sounds like another case of the "state" taking on an easy target - my suggestion to the "state" is : go get an illegal alien, a drunk driver, a methamphetamine producer/user, a rapist, a pedophile - you know, one of the real threats to society. Leave this man & his cat alone!

  • Raydianse May 19, 2008

    Another way of how our country is turning into a socialist society. Who are we to tell him that this animal is "dangerous" any more so than a dog that can escape and kill? Let people make their own decisions in life. Our government has nothing better to do than to take a cat from a man? What about fighting real crime or protecting me from the communist government that seems to be controlling everything.

  • Clover May 16, 2008

    Our tax dollars at work :-(

  • abbey May 16, 2008

    great wral. now your blogs are as boring as your tv shows.

  • rebekah816 May 16, 2008

    This is terrible...the cat is probably just as tame as my cat is...and probably enjoys belly rubs just as much, too...the poor thing would likely die if it was put into a zoo...it's used to human contact and is therefore, domesticated...

    Leave the cat where it is...there's not enough of them left, as there is!!!