Some Like It Hot: Venomous Reptiles in Florida

Florida's FWC to update Venomous Reptile regulations

Florida’s FWC to update Venomous Reptile regulations

Venomous Reptiles and Rule Change
The State of Florida has a long and storied history with captive venomous reptiles going back almost a century with famed herpetologists Ross Allen and Bill Haast. But in the wake of two high profile venomous snake escapes, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has come under increased political pressure to tighten up venomous reptile regulations in the name of “public safety.” A new proposed rule is in the works, and there will likely be significant changes in regulation for zoos, venom labs and private keepers alike. FWC is currently accepting input from stakeholders through an online survey at Deadline for the surveys is July 27, 2016. There is also an opportunity to make public comment directly to FWC.

FWC has created a venomous reptiles working group known as the Venomous Reptiles Technical Assistance Group (VRTAG) to solicit stake holder input as a part of the process of formulating a draft proposed rule. FWC has a history of using TAG groups when seeking subject matter expertise on a given issue. I was selected as a resource to the VRTAG by FWC to represent clients in the zoo sector on behalf of Vitello Consulting. VRTAG meetings were held in early June and again in early July. Although the working group meetings were well run and allowed for an open exchange of ideas, there were clear lines of disagreement between FWC staff and the majority of VRTAG members.

The biggest point of contention between VRTAG members and FWC staff centered on a proposed three tier system of classification for venomous reptiles, with Tier I reptiles being unavailable for possession by private keepers that don’t meet the definition of “commercial” — such as dealers, zoos or venom labs. There could also be an increase in documented hours and/or educational requirements for venomous reptile license applications. Focus would be on incrementally moving up the tier system over time like building blocks — i.e., with Tier III being a prerequisite for Tier II, and Tier II a prerequisite for Tier I. Additionally, a proposed rule would likely require secondary containment for all three tiers, with tertiary “lockout doors,” specially constructed “out buildings,” and “pit tag” identification for Tier I reptiles.

Public Comment
Aside from the online survey that is being conducted by FWC, it is imperative that anyone who has an interest in venomous reptiles in Florida to make a substantive public comment. This is not just an up or down vote. If you want your public comment to carry weight, you must submit “substantive” public comment. That is a comment that specifically addresses concerns about the current draft of the proposed rule, or suggests alternatives to provisions of the draft. Being generally for or against the draft rule will not carry much weight.

Make Public Comment to FWC regarding Venomous Reptiles and the VRTAG!

Please make public comments here:

Below are all of the current documents forming the basis for a draft proposed rule. Provisions of the draft rule will likely change at least somewhat. I should have an updated draft sometime in September. I will post an update as soon as possible.

Andrew Wyatt is a government affairs and policy consultant that works exclusively in the wildlife sector.

WyattP1“Venomous Reptiles and other wildlife issues are highly charged and contentious. I specialize in working with clients to employ campaign style tactics to change hearts and minds on vital wildlife issues. Please follow The Last Word on Wildlife for insight and analysis particular to the 21st century wildlife sector. If you would like to discuss the potential advantages of running a targeted issue campaign, and/or a comprehensive government affairs strategy, please call or email me.” ~ Andrew Wyatt

© Andrew Wyatt and The Last Word on Wildlife, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew Wyatt and The Last Word on Wildlife with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Angry Tweets Won’t Help African Lions

“… hunting was never really the main problem.” ~ Richard Conniff for The New York Times

strange behaviors

ZWE_BWA_120928_1701_04284_F-Blog (Photo: Craig Taylor/Panthera)

by Richard Conniff/The New York Times

THE killing of Zimbabwe’s celebrated Cecil the Lion by a Minnesota dentist, on July 1 of last year unleashed a storm of moral fulmination against trophy hunting. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued an official statement calling for the hunter, Walter J. Palmer, to be hanged, and an odd bedfellow, Newt Gingrich, tweeted that Dr. Palmer and the entire team involved in the killing of Cecil should go to jail. The television personality Sharon Osbourne thought merely losing “his home, his practice and his money” would do, adding, “He has already lost his soul.”

More than one million people signed a petition demanding “justice for Cecil,” and three major American airlines announced that they would no longer transport hunting trophies. A few months later, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed lions from West and Central…

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