"Leaving Floridians’ livelihoods, businesses, hobbies and pets open to wide interpretation. . . is scary to all permit holders, especially those of us in a reptile community which has been constantly under fire for the last several years.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has changed the rules regarding captive wildlife permits. The rules, which the FWC says are intended to prevent bad actors from continuing to possess captive wildlife after their permits have been revoked or not renewed, remain vague, according to a report in the Ocala Star-Banner.
“None of us here would disagree that bad actors need to be out, people that are poaching animals, they’re breaking existing laws, they’re keeping animals in inhumane conditions. They need to go, but this rule still has so many ambiguities,” Curt Harbsmeier, a member of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers Florida, said at the May 3 meeting with the FWC.
Some of the issues that reptile keepers, breeders and sellers of these animals want clarity from FWC include what violations would result in a permit revocation, as well as clarity on transfer rules and the 90-day disposal period. The commission can consider further clarification as well as a point system for violations, whereby individuals would accumulate points for violations before adverse actions are taken.
Rule 68A-6.003 of the Florida Administrative Code:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this Title, no person shall possess any native or non-native wildlife in captivity except a authorized by permit issued in accordance with Section 379.3761 or 379.3762, F.S., and as provided in this chapter.
(2) Persons possessing any captive wildlife for purposes of public display or sale shall obtain a permit as specified in Section 379.3761, F.S.
(3) Class I wildlife shall not be possessed for personal use, except as follows:
(a) Any Class I wildlife possessed for personal use on August 1, 1980, shall be eligible for a permit in accordance with the provisions for Class II wildlife. Any Class II wildlife possessed as personal use wildlife in accordance with Section 379.3762, F.S., that is uplisted to Class I upon the effective date of Rule 68A-6.002, F.A.C., shall be eligible for a permit in accordance with the provisions of Class II wildlife. No other Class I wildlife shall be transferred or kept for personal use.
1. All Class I wildlife possessed for personal use in accordance with the provisions for Class II Wildlife, shall be permanently identified by means of tattoo, brand, passive integrated transponder (PIT tag), photographic identification, or other method that clearly and permanently identifies that particular specimen so as to be distinguished from other specimens of the same species.
a. For photographic identification the photograph of the specimen must include sufficient distinguishing characteristics (marks, scars, and patterns, etc.) to enable that particular specimen to be distinguished from other specimens of the same species.
b. Record of identification including PIT tag numbers where applicable, along with information about the specimen being identified (species, method of identification, specimen name or number, gender and age) must be maintained in the possessor’s records for as long as the specimen is possessed. Such records shall be made available for inspection, upon request, of commission personnel. A copy of such record shall be provided to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, upon annual renewal of the license issued in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., and authorizing possession of such wildlife.
2. Effective Date: All permanent identification requirements in this rule shall not take effect until January 1, 2010.
(b) Persons possessing Class I wildlife for personal use shall comply with all provisions of this chapter relating to the personal use of wildlife.
(4) Persons possessing Class II wildlife as personal use wildlife shall purchase a permit as provided in Section 379.3762, F.S.
(5) Persons possessing Class III wildlife as personal use wildlife shall obtain a no-cost permit from the Executive Director.
(6) Any person engaging in the business of breeding or the purchase or sale of exotic birds or birds customarily kept as pets shall be licensed as provided in Section 379.3761, F.S.
(7) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to entities operating solely as research facilities, which are registered and regulated as such in accordance with Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 2131, et. seq.) and regulations promulgated thereunder, provided the following requirements are met:
(a) Such facilities must maintain on premises a detailed research proposal which shall state with particularity the research objectives, methodology, and study duration, and outline planned safeguards to assure proper containment of the wildlife. Maintain an annual record of progress toward the research project objectives. Such research proposal and record of progress shall be available for inspection upon request of Commission personnel.
(b) Such facilities housing wildlife must maintain such wildlife in cages or enclosures which meet the structural requirements as specified in Rules 68A-6.010 and 68A-6.011, F.A.C.
(8) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to persons possessing the following non-native wildlife species exclusively for the purpose of production of meat, skins or hides, feathers or progeny thereof, and not for personal possession or public display or exhibition:
(9) No permit shall be required for the sale of poultry, hamsters, guinea pigs, domestic rats and mice, gerbils, or chameleons (Anolis).
(10) Fox, skunks, bats, raccoons, or whitetail deer taken from the wild shall not be possessed as personal use wildlife and shall be possessed only in accordance with permits issued under Rules 68A-9.002, 68A-9.006, F.A.C., or Section 379.3761, F.S.
(11) No permit shall be required to possess the following wildlife for personal use, unless possession of a species is otherwise regulated by other rules of the Commission:
(a) Reptiles or amphibians (nonvenomous, unprotected)
(b) Gerbils, hedgehogs
(c) Honey possums, sugar gliders
(d) Rats and mice
(e) Moles; shrews
(g) Squirrels; chipmunks
(h) Ferrets (domestic; European)
(i) Guinea pigs
(k) Prairie dogs
(m) Shell parakeets
(s) Myna birds
(u) Doves; ringed, ruddy, and diamond
(v) Button quail
“Clarification and transparency are lacking about what violations do or should constitute license revocation,” Michael Cole, a USARK FL board member, said in the Ocala Star-Banner report. “Let’s clarify this thing with a point system and put it in writing. Leaving Floridians’ livelihoods, businesses, hobbies and pets open to wide interpretation. . . is scary to all permit holders, especially those of us in a reptile community which has been constantly under fire for the last several years.”