After more than a decade of exile, ferrets might be making a comeback in New York City.
The Health Department said on Wednesday that it asked an appointed board responsible for changing health policies to consider repealing a regulation that bans the furry creatures as pets in the five boroughs.
The consideration was spurred by a petition from Brooklyn resident Ariel Jasper, who also set up a public petition on Change.org to legalize ferrets with some 363 signatures from around the country.
A spokesperson for the Health Department said that the residents will be able to weigh in on the ban and proposed change, although the specific date has not yet been determined.
"Evidence shows ferrets do not bite more frequently or severely than other pets the same size," said a memo from the Health Department obtained by the New York Times, adding that "There is now an approved rabies vaccine."
The Board of Health — which currently consists of members appointed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg — would likely take a vote in September after the public comment period closes.
The same document, dated late April, suggests that final rules might be adopted in December with any changes to the law effective by January 2015.
Ferrets were banned in 1999 as pets in New York City — even though they are still legal elsewhere in the state — when then Mayor Rudy Giuliani aggressively spoke against ferrets as pets when confronted by a ferret advocate.
"There is something really, really, very sad about you," Giuliani said during an exchange on WABC-AM at the time You need help. You need somebody to help you. I know you feel insulted by that, but I’m being honest with you. This excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness."
Giuliani's distaste for ferrets outlasted his own administration. When a legal appeal against the law extended into the Bloomberg's first term in 2002, the city stood by the law and won the case.
The activist who was a the receiving end of the former mayor's lambast said on Wednesday that he opposed the proposed repeal and argued that it it gave officials too much power with licenses and potential fees.
"It becomes more Gestapo techniques," he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
Other animals banned by New York City
Source: NYC Rules
• Wolves, foxes, dingos and other undomesticated dogs
• Lions, tigers, ocelots and other undomesticated cats
• Venomous spiders and insects, including tarantulas, black widows and scorpions
• Various reptiles, including iguana, gila monsters, vipers, cobras and anacondas
• Monkeys, apes, chimps, gorillas, lemurs and other primates
• Nutria, beavers, porcupines and other large rodents
• Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koala bears and other marsupials
• Eagles, hawks, emus, ostriches and other large or predatory birds
• Dolphins, whales, seals and other sea mammals
• Sharks, piranhas and other predatory sea animals
• Pot-bellied pigs
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria