Notes and summary of the FWC presentation and summary. The documents cited are available at https://myfwc.com/about/commission/commission-meetings/july-2020/. See agenda item 8A for July 23.
The FWC Summary Memo Notes
FWC: “Affected Parties: Owners of tegus and green iguanas, pet stores, reptile industry, and nuisance wildlife control operators”
This is inaccurate as the new regulation also severely impacts businesses working with reptiles currently listed as Conditional Species. These businesses will be forced to terminate without any potential for limited exceptions under the draft regulations. All breeding, sales, educational programs (see below for details and very limited exemptions), etc. for the species below will be illegal:
Burmese python (Python bivittatus);
Indian python (Python molurus);
Reticulated python (Malayopython reticulatus, or Python reticulatus);
Northern African python (Python sebae):
Southern African python (Python natalensis):
Amethystine python (Simalia amethistina, or Morelia amethistina);
Australian scrub python (Simalia kinghorni, or Morelia kinghorni);
Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus):
Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus);
Green iguana (Iguana iguana);
Tegu lizards (any species of the Genera Salvator or Tupinambis);
Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) with continued exemption for Aquaculture permit holders regulated by Florida DACS.
FWC: “Proposed draft rules move most of the species of reptiles on the Conditional list and all species of tegus and green iguanas to the Prohibited list to conform with statutory changes.”
The statute (SB1414) does not direct FWC to move reptiles from the Conditional Species list to the Prohibited Species list. This is FWC’s decision regarding how to respond to the statute.
FWC will suggest to the Commissioners that:
The Commissioners approve the draft rules as presented (this is not a final vote and does mean this is the final language);
FWC may advertise (post publicly) the draft rules and allow further public comment;
Final rule language (following a period allowing for more public comment) will be presented at a subsequent Commission meeting.
FWC Presentation Notes
FWC: “The number of declared animal shipments has doubled since 2000.”
This is misleading as the number of animals imported has actually decreased. While the number of shipments may have doubled, the number of animals in those shipments has decreased dramatically (less animals per shipment). For example, it is now common for a few animals of higher value (such as expensive reptiles bred in Europe) to be imported.
FWC: “Between 1999‐2010 over 12 million wild caught reptiles from elsewhere in the world were imported into the U.S…”
It is important to note that import numbers for wild-caught animals decrease each year. It must also be mentioned that most of the reptiles sold in the U.S. are bred domestically under human care and are not imported, wild-caught animals.
FWC: “Over 80% of the species introduced into Florida have originated from the live animal trade.” and “92% of reptiles species have originated from the live animal trade.”
It must be stated that while species found in the Florida wild may be found in the pet trade, that does not mean the pet trade was the original source for wild populations. Correlation should not imply causation. As an observation, discussions with long-time Florida herpetoculturists will yield stories of visiting import docks when shipments of plants, fruits, and vegetables would arrive in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. These shipments often contained hitchhikers (i.e. reptiles) that could be found in these shipments and on the docks after the boats were unloaded. This does not remove the fact that many species have resulted from irresponsible pet owners and businesses, but we must present the entire picture.
FWC has stated they have constitutional authority over wildlife. FWC also states that
“Recent Legislative changes have resulted in the rules for these species no longer aligning with Statutory provisions.”
At no legislative hearing to FWC testify to inform legislators about the current regulations regarding the species to be moved from the Conditional Species list to the Prohibited Species list. Nor did FWC supply testimony to educate legislators on the history of the Conditional Species rule development, collaboration with industry, success of the rule for over a decade, etc.
“To conform the FWC’s rules with the new statute language, the draft rules move these species from the Conditional list to the Prohibited list.”
This was FWC’s decision and the statute does not direct FWC to move these species to the Prohibited Species list.
“Currently, Conditional species may be possessed for educational exhibition, research, and commercial import/export, whereas, Prohibited Species may only be possessed for educational exhibition or research use.”
The “educational exhibition” under the Conditional Species rule is not the same as the educational exhibition allowed under the Prohibited Species rule. The Prohibited Species rule is far more restrictive and most Conditional Species permit holders will now be banned from continuing their educational exhibition.
“In accordance with the new statute language, provisions were added to the draft rule language that allows for limited exceptions for some commercial use.”
While this does allow for exemptions to some businesses that had FWC inventories for these species, it does not allow for exemptions to those who had invested resources buying and raising animals for future business that did not yet have FWC permits (as they were not required since no business was yet being conducted).
Regarding red-eared sliders, FWC states that “regulation of this species will not change.” That means all business and interests regarding red-eared sliders shall remain as it was previously.
FWC has stated that virtual rule workshops will be held in the upcoming months to obtain public comment. This should mean workshops will be held allowing for suggestions to rule changes and also implies that it should be a few months before the rules are finalized.