Georgia crews may soon need a permit to film wild animals

The state Senate gave final passage Tuesday to a measure that would create a new kind of permit for Georgia’s expanding film industry.

House Bill 840 would require film companies to get a "film production wildlife permit" before they bring such animals on set, starting July 1. It also would come with a cost: $600 for crews from out-of-state and $300 for in-state film crews.

The bill would additionally allow the state to regulate how the animals are treated, including adequate sanitation facilities, housing and food — and ensuring public safety.

"In Georgia, you can't film lions and tigers and bills without this bill," said the measure's Senate sponsor, state Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville. Ginn said the animals film crews are likely to use are already in captivity after being rescued.

The bill, he said, is meant to set standards for how to use the animals on set. “It is an accepted practice in other states, and all we’re trying to do is get on a level playing field,” he said.

HB 840 now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.