State Representatives Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) and John Kivela (D-Marquette) voted today in favor of SB 48, which would amend the Large Carnivore Act so that a business could be exempt from the act even though it allowed a patron to have direct or close contact with a bear that is less than 36 weeks old or weighs no more than 90 pounds. The bill passed 56-52.

“Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Newberry is in my district and it has been rescuing bears and educating the public on these animals since 1997,” said Kivela. “I consider the passage of this legislation a win for promoting safety when encountering wildlife and keeping a U.P. attraction open for business.”

The Large Carnivore Act regulates the possession of, and other activities associated with, large carnivores defined to refer to bears and to large cats, such as lions, tigers and leopards. With the passage of SB 48, an individual or entity would not be able to allow patrons to come into direct contact with a large carnivore, other than a bear, up to 36 weeks old or weighing up to 90 pounds.

“This bill actually does have real-world implications. I have always supported small businesses and supported wise use of our natural resources,” said Dianda. “The bear ranch affected by this legislation rehabilitates and rescues bears and plays an integral role in educating people on what to do when encountering large carnivores in the wild. This is particularly important in my district and the entire Upper Peninsula.”