December FWC Commission Meeting
The next FWC Commission meeting is December 16-17. This is a virtual (online) meeting and not in-person but it is still a live, public meeting. On Thursday, Dec. 17th, two agenda items are significant to herpetoculturists. You may easily join the meeting and speak to the Commissioners by clicking "Live Video Conference" at the link below. The public may speak on any agenda item open to public comment (including the two below):
1. The 4th topic Thursday morning before the lunch break regards a prohibition on keeping Diamondback terrapins.
2. Agenda item 9 is Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda.
For more information, agenda, PDF presentations, and link to join the meeting, visit:
There is already a ban on owning more than two Diamondback terrapins in Florida (even for non-native subspecies). The new proposal would allow current owners to register and keep their terrapins but would ban any future ownership. Commercial breeding is currently banned.
Terrapin Talking Points
(rephrase and personalize when speaking at the meeting)
Conservation of Diamondback terrapins is of utmost importance but we must understand that habitat destruction, crab traps lacking proper bycatch reduction devices, pollution, and roadway deaths are by far the most devastating to wild populations. Whereas, breeding under human care aids in the conservation of species and can be easily regulated.
Breeding under human care by licensed parties should be incorporated into this regulation.
Breeding programs and sales of captive-bred terrapins is not detrimental to wild populations and actually increases the global population, contributing to the conservation of this species.
FWC or the Department of Agriculture can regulate these breeding efforts just as they do for many other turtle species.
Those who illegally collect and poach terrapins should absolutely be punished but this collective punishment approach of not allowing responsible and dedicated terrapin enthusiasts to breed these incredible animals and sell those offspring is unjust.
Reptile enthusiasts want to help FWC conserve these wonderful turtles but we see flaws in the proposal.
There are common-sense measures that are not included in this proposal.
Poachers are already breaking current law and passing this regulation creates even greater incentive as the prices for the wild-caught turtles will go even higher as these beautiful animals are highly-valued overseas.
There is a high demand for these turtles and that demand will be met until there are no more wild terrapins. Whereas, captive breeding could fill this demand rather than further incentivizing illegal poaching.
This is a misguided proposal to an important issue and I hope the Commissioners will direct staff to collaborate with interested persons to develop a common-sense rule that allows for regulated breeding of this species.
Albino or leucistic non-wild-type color morph terrapins should be excluded from any regulations. Many other states have done this for native species and FWC does this with red-eared sliders.
Please realize that "possession" of terrapins is different from "take" of wild animals. Possession can be addressed through common-sense regulation while punishing illegal taking of wild animals.
Believing that further bans will stop the problems is idealistic and flawed logic rather than rational thinking.
Click here for the USARK FL Terrapin Alert on Facebook:
Agenda item 9 Talking Points
(remember to be brief and personalize your message)
This is an opportunity to remind the Commissioners that you are opposed to listing tegus, green iguanas, and current Conditional reptile species as prohibited (on agenda for the February Commission Meeting).
I do not support the FWC draft proposal to list tegus, green iguanas, and current Conditional Reptile Species as Prohibited.
The current Conditional Species Permit regulation has proven effective for over a decade.
The Conditional Species Permit is a legitimate and viable system to preventing the "next Burmese python."
If the Conditional Species Permit had been in place during Hurricane Andrew then we would not have the Burmese python problem in southern Florida.
Responsible Florida reptile keepers and businesses want nothing more than to aid FWC in protecting Florida's environment and bans via Prohibited listings are not the answer.
The reptile industry suggested tegus be added to the Conditional Species Permit program several times beginning over a decade ago.
Please direct staff to keep the current Conditional Species of reptiles under the Conditional regulation and add tegus and green iguanas as Conditional, not Prohibited.
Under the Conditional Species Permit, all animals must be sold outside of Florida (unless going to another CSP Permit holder).
The Conditional Species Permit bans all future ownership of listed species as pets in Florida.
The Conditional Species Permit is the most comprehensive regulation in the U.S. for breeding reptiles.
FWC has extreme oversight for the commercial entities permitted to work with Conditional Species.
Anyone desiring to work with Conditional Species must abide by the exact same standards and regulation as accredited zoos.
By listing species as Conditional Species, it allows FWC to weed out the irresponsible persons who cause problems in our state.
The Conditional Species Permit authorizes FWC to punish the bad actors while allowing responsible persons to work with these animals while under the watchful eye of FWC officers.
Citations from FWC by Conditional Species Permit holders have almost non-existent for over a decade, clearly demonstrating that those with Conditional Species Permits and responsible individuals who want to comply with the regulation. Additionally, citations and warnings to CSP holders have not been escapes or releases but rather minor infractions including mislabeled cages.
The Conditional Species Permit allows for regulated business while Prohibited listings create a black market and higher prices (hence greater incentive) for the banned species.
Listing these species as Prohibited is a step backward and will create more problems than those it claims to solve.