The Florida statute remains unchanged for now.
Burmese pythons are one of the six reptile species listed as Reptiles of Concern in Florida. Photo courtesy FWC.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reviewed current regulations regarding the sale and possession of Reptiles of Concern during its meeting in September. Commissioners decided to collect more information before making any changes to the current statute.
Commissioners asked the FWC director of law enforcement to look at the science behind personal pet ownership, breeding and sale by Florida’s reptile industry, and to bring back a wide range of options. FWC spokeswoman Patricia Behnke said the commission seeks more precise figures on Reptiles of Concern, such as sales figures, permits issued and other data. “Obviously staff aren’t going to go door to door and ask people, ‘Do you have a python in the house?’” she said. “But staff will be working with people who have the best info on this, and many of them will be reptile dealers.”
Behnke said it was unclear whether a report with this data would be ready by the next FWC meeting, which is scheduled for December.
While the FWC reviewed Reptiles of Concern policies during the September meeting, several key reptile-industry members were in attendance. Bill Brant and Eugene Bessette, both members of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, were two. Addressing commissioners, Bessette suggested ways to tighten loopholes and improve the Reptiles of Concern statute. Andrew Wyatt of the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers also spoke. He said the nearly two-year-old statute was new, and sufficient time should be allowed to bring owners of Reptiles of Concern into compliance. To help, Wyatt offered USARK’s assistance in raising awareness and promoting FWC pet amnesty days.
FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto said science and facts must guide decision-making on the Reptiles of Concern issue as answers are sought for a solution. “There’s a huge battle cry for an all-out ban, but it is uncharacteristic of this agency to have knee-jerk reactions,” Barreto said in a press release. “Let’s put everything out on the table and encourage the industry to keep working with us to find the answers.”