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Proposed Final Rule Changes Regarding High-Risk Nonnative Reptiles

Upcoming Commission Meeting

Proposed rules will be presented to the Commission on February 25, 2021. See the Commission Meeting Agenda for more information.

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A green iguana on a trail near a pond

At the FWC’s February Commission Meeting, Commissioners will be considering proposed rules regarding invasive, nonnative reptiles for final approval. Details about the rule changes are below. The proposed rule changes include adding 16 high-risk nonnative reptiles to the Prohibited list, reporting requirements for permittees, biosecurity requirements to limit escape of these high-risk species, and some additional clarifying language. The Commission Meeting is open to the public and will be live streamed via Adobe Connect and the Florida Channel.

In all rulemaking processes, FWC staff work closely with stakeholders to provide recommendations to the Commission. The FWC hosted online stakeholder workshops to present proposed rule changes and collected public comment. Interested stakeholders can submit additional comments via comment form in advance of the Commission Meeting and via call-in number during the meeting. Advance comments should be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on February 19, 2021.

To stay informed, stakeholders can also subscribe to receive news related to nonnative fish and wildlife.

Proposed Final Rule Changes to Chapter 68-5, F.A.C.

Definitions

These proposed rule changes include adding a definition for the term “eradication and control” to clarify its meaning in this rule chapter.

Read the proposed rule language for 68-5.002

In the proposed rules, anything underlined is being added whereas anything struck out is being removed.

Conditional Non-native Species

These proposed rule changes include removing the currently listed Conditional snakes and lizards so they may instead be listed as Prohibited species in Rule 68-5.006. Conditional snake and lizard species may only be possessed by permit for educational exhibition, research, or commercial import/export use. Prohibited species may only be possessed by permit for educational exhibition or research use. Conditional and Prohibited species may not be possessed as personal pets.

Read the proposed rule language for 68-5.004

In the proposed rules, anything underlined is being added whereas anything struck out is being removed.

Possession of Conditional Non-native Species

These proposed rule changes include a revision to an incorrect reference in the provisions for Conditional species research permits.

Read the proposed rule language for 68-5.005

In the proposed rules, anything underlined is being added whereas anything struck out is being removed.

Prohibited Non-native Species

These proposed rule changes include the addition of 16 high-risk nonnative reptiles including green iguanas (Iguana iguana) and tegus (genera Salvator and Tupinambis, all species) to the Prohibited species list and the movement of Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons, green anacondas, Northern African pythons, Southern African pythons, amethystine pythons, scrub pythons and Nile monitors to the Prohibited species list. Prohibited species may only be possessed by permit for educational exhibition, research use, eradication and control, and limited commercial use. Prohibited species may not be possessed as personal pets, except pets possessed prior to the species’ listing as Prohibited.

Read the proposed rule language for 68-5.006

In the proposed rules, anything underlined is being added whereas anything struck out is being removed.

Possession of Prohibited Non-native Species

These proposed rule changes include language establishing new and clarifying existing permitting, caging, biosecurity, record keeping and reporting requirements. The proposed rule changes also establish new language for eradication and control permits.

Some limited exceptions for the possession of green iguanas and tegus for commercial sales and exhibition are included in the proposed changes to Rule 68-5.007. Green iguanas and tegus possessed as personal pets prior to July 1, 2020, are also eligible to continue to be possessed as pets with a no-cost permit for the life of the individual animals. No new pet green iguanas or tegus can be acquired after July 1, 2020.

Read the proposed rule language for 68-5.007

In the proposed rules, anything underlined is being added whereas anything struck out is being removed.

Amnesty for Persons Relinquishing Non-native Pets

These proposed rule changes include clarifications for rules related to the FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program. This program is an effort to reduce the number of nonnative species being released into the wild by pet owners who can no longer care for their pets or no longer wish to keep them.

Read the proposed rule language for 68-5.008

In the proposed rules, anything underlined is being added whereas anything struck out is being removed.

Nonnative Reptiles Risk Screening Summaries

FWC staff use a risk screening tool developed by the University of Florida to help with invasive animal management. The tool uses a variety of factors to produce an Invasion Assessment Score and a Feasibility of Control Score. These scores provide a recommendation on whether biologists should respond to remove the species from the wild and provides a quick look at the potential risks posed by a species.