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California ferret owners want their pets legalized

By Terence Chea

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 7 2011 3:29 a.m. MST

At the request of wildlife officials, the legalization campaign commissioned a recent California State University, Sacramento study, which concluded ferrets pose little danger to the state's wildlife, environment or people, except infants and small children. The 177-page report found that domesticated ferrets can only survive in the wild a few days, no feral colony has been found in the U.S. and ferrets are much less dangerous that dogs.

But the fish and game commission said the study did not meet the standards for triggering a formal review of legalization.

Advocates are arguing that legalizing ferrets could give an economic boost to cash-strapped California by providing tax revenues from sales of ferrets, which cost about $150 each. They say the vast majority of ferrets sold in neighboring states end up in California, which loses out on those sales.

"I don't think there's any doubt that the sale of pet ferrets would generate an economic benefit for the state," said Michael Maddox, vice president of government affairs for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

But even if they can't overturn the ban, California ferret owners say they have no plans to give up their beloved pets.

Jeremy Trimm said he's been fascinated with ferrets since he saw the 1982 film "The Beastmaster" as a kid. He got his first ones when he lived in Indiana several years ago and couldn't give them up when he moved back to his native California. He currently keeps six of them at his home near Sacramento.

"They come into your life and you can't get rid of them," Trimm said. "They are the most incredible, happy creatures that you'll ever meet."

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