PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is seeking public feedback from all interested parties on draft rules related to high-risk nonnative reptiles. Invasive species management is a high priority for the FWC because these animals negatively impact native fish and wildlife, cause damage that is costly to repair, and can pose a threat to human health and safety.
At the agency’s July meeting, Commissioners unanimously approved staff recommendations to create new rules to address the importation, breeding and possession of high-risk reptiles.
The proposed rule changes to Chapter 68-5, F.A.C., specifically address pythons, tegus, green iguanas and other high-risk nonnative snakes and lizards and include reporting requirements for permittees, biosecurity requirements to limit escape of these high-risk species and some additional clarifying language.
Beginning Sept. 29, staff will be holding 10 online workshops to present proposed rule changes and collect public comment on this important topic. Staff will use this information to help improve the final rule language, which will be brought before the Commission at a future meeting.
Prior to the workshops, people are encouraged to take part in an online survey, which will help staff determine what topics to cover at the workshops. All interested parties are encouraged to take part in the survey.
Close coordination with stakeholders and the public is important for helping to ensure the best outcome for final rules.
“We encourage anyone who is interested to participate in the survey and workshops,” said Kipp Frohlich, director of the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “Whether you own one of these animals as a pet, have experienced impacts from one of these species or if you are simply concerned about this very real threat facing our native wildlife, we need you to participate.”
The FWC has scheduled 10 workshops on this topic. To learn more about upcoming workshops, take part in the online survey or view the draft rules go to MyFWC.com/Nonnatives and click on the “Learn More” button in the middle of the page.
More than 500 nonnative species have been reported in Florida. Eighty percent of these have been introduced via the live animal trade, with 150 species established in Florida, meaning they are reproducing in the wild. Since most nonnative fish and wildlife find their way into Florida’s habitats through escape or release from the live animal trade, it is important to create regulations to prevent high-risk nonnative wildlife from becoming introduced or further established in Florida’s environment.
To learn more about invasive species in Florida, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.