News Releases

FWC Commissioners approve draft rule changes to venomous reptile regulations aimed to improve public safety

News Release

Friday, September 09, 2016

Media contact: Rob Klepper, 850-617-9666 or Robert.Klepper@MyFWC.com

At its Sept. 8 meeting in St. Augustine, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved draft rule changes to existing venomous reptile regulations to improve public safety. These draft rules strengthen biosecurity requirements by requiring more secure enclosures to minimize the risk of escapes to the public and native environment. Commissioners also approved further action by FWC’s captive wildlife section by continuing Technical Assistance Group meetings in order to listen to the public and stakeholders and to recommend future actions such as education, amnesty options and new training requirements.

 FWC captive wildlife staff was directed by the Commission in November 2015 to evaluate existing regulations and develop a range of regulatory options for the Commission’s consideration.

“These new rules go a long way toward safeguarding the public and the natural environment,” said FWC Commission Chairman Brian Yablonski. “The venomous reptile owners that we’ve heard from have impressed me with their knowledge and willingness to work with our staff to come up with common sense actions that can be put in place to provide for the safety of the public. I know that the FWC staff has been working hard to take a number of different viewpoints into consideration as we work to increase safety across Florida, and I look forward to these modifications moving us in the right direction.”

After direction from the Commission in April, captive wildlife staff formed a TAG and met with them twice to hear recommendations as staff developed draft rules for venomous reptiles. The TAG consists of both industry and herpetological experts. Staff also reached out to the public and industry experts for input and considered their feedback.

The results of the TAG and stakeholder feedback resulted in the development of draft rules that would address biosecurity, modify caging and handling requirements and increase accountability and responsibility. These rule modifications will reduce the risk to licensees, the general public and ecological resources from escapes and/or bites from venomous reptiles that are currently permitted for possession.

“Our number one goal is public safety. These draft rules are a good start as we look forward to receiving more valuable input in order to increase protections for Floridians regarding venomous reptile ownership.” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC’s captive wildlife section leader.

Publication of the draft rules will occur as soon as possible with a final public hearing set for the November Commission meeting. For more information about captive wildlife permitting, visit MyFWC/license and click “Captive Wildlife.”



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