Niagara Gazette

March 10, 2013

With Presti in mind, exotic animals up for discussion in Wilson

BY BILL WOLCOTT
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Wilson Town Board will host public hearings concerning local laws to regulate exotic animals and modifying regulations regarding the construction of fences at 7 p.m. on March 20 at the town hall, 375 Lake St.

As to the local law to regulate exotic animals, Supervisor Joe Jastrzemski said, "We didn't have one in place. There's nothing in the town law about having exotic animals. The biggest thing is we found an alligator in creek last year."

A major issue may involve Carmen Presti's hope to build a primate sanctuary on his Cambria-Wilson Road property. Presti, noted for his friendship with Mike Norris and his appearances with "Charlie the Karate Chimp," was stopped in his effort to build a sanctuary in 2008. He had primates and exotic birds living in crowded quarters on Livingston Avenue in Niagara Falls.

According to Jastrzemski, Presti plans to apply for a permit to build a facility to house his primates.

"This is not a measure to keep anyone out," the supervisor said. "We want to control what animals are housed on the property. We want to be able to put parameters in place."

Jastrzemski wants first responders to be aware of what animals they are dealing with on the property in case of an emergency. "Fireman should know. The sheriff and state troopers should know that. When it comes to exotic animals, they get licenses from the state."

The town never found out who owned the alligator which was found alive going into Twelvemile Creek.

"We're working on a master plan and want to update our codes," Jastrzemski said.

Dave Elway, who has two elk, "Big Jim and Billy," white tail deer and a zebra at Elway's Christmas Tree Adventure on Willow Road, will likely attend the public hearing.

There are two issues regarding the local law regarding fences. Neighbor's are concerned that their sight line to the lake is obstructed. Also, the law would require the nice side of the fence to be facing the neighbor's property.