At its July 2020 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) unanimously approved staff recommendations to create new rules to address the importation, breeding and possession of high-risk reptiles.
The FWC will host online stakeholder workshops to present proposed rule changes and collect public and industry comment on this topic. Staff will use these comments to help improve the final rule language, which will be brought before the Commission at a future meeting. Close coordination with stakeholders and the public will help ensure the best outcome for final rules.
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.
FWC rulemaking will include reporting requirements for permittees, biosecurity requirements to limit escape of these high-risk species, and possible additional language to clarify limited exceptions for possession of green iguanas and tegus for commercial use or as pets.
These proposed rule changes complement the recent amendments to Section 379.372, F.S., which were signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis and went into effect on July 1, 2020.
More than 500 nonnative species have been reported in Florida. Eighty percent of these have been introduced via the live animal trade with 150 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.
Details on upcoming public and stakeholder meetings on this topic are still to be determined. Visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives for more information.