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New Nonnative Species Rules

Photo credit Adam G. Stern

Commissioners approved rule changes in Chapter 68-5, F.A.C., regarding nonnative species on February 21st, 2019. Details of the rule changes are below. All rule changes will become effective on May 2, 2019. The 90-day grace period will begin on May 2, 2019 and end on July 31, 2019.

Have questions?

Contact us at NonnativeSpeciesRules@MyFWC.com.

New Grandfathered Pet Permit

Photo credit Adam G. Stern

People in possession of any of the newly-listed Prohibited species as personal pets prior to May 2, 2019 may apply for a Grandfathered Prohibited Species for Personal Use permit to maintain that pet for the life of the animal. Only animals possessed prior to May 2, 2019 are eligible to be permitted for personal possession. All grandfathered pets must be marked with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag. No new pets of these species may be acquired after May 2, 2019.

CSP Application - Grandfathered Prohibited Species for Personal Use

Qualifying researchers and educational exhibitors will need to apply for a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit (CSP) for exhibition or research to possess any of the newly-listed Prohibited species currently in possession.

Rule 68-5.002

Definitions

These rule changes define twelve key terms used in Chapter 68-5, F.A.C. These definitions improve the clarity and intent of these terms that are commonly used in nonnative species regulations, will help the public better understand these regulations, and will help the FWC review permit applications.

Read the rule language for 68-5.002 Definitions

Rule 68-5.006

Prohibited Species

The FWC added 4 reptiles, 4 birds, and 5 types of mammals to the Prohibited species list. These species, which were already regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as Injurious Species, pose a high-risk to Florida if introduced into the state. 

A Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species permit is required to import and/or possess these species in Florida for research or education/exhibit purposes. Personal or commercial use of these species is prohibited.

Read the rule language for 68-5.006 Prohibited Nonnative Species

Rule 68-5.007

Possession of Prohibited Species

The FWC recognizes that there may be individuals who already possess the newly listed Prohibited species as personal pets.

This rule “grandfathers” those people, and allows them to get a no-cost permit to possess their pet for the rest of the animal’s life. However, they will not be allowed to acquire any new Prohibited species for personal possession, unless they are accepting a transfer of a permitted Prohibited species from an owner who has passed away.

Read the rule language for 68-5.007 Possession of Prohibited Nonnative Species

Frequently Asked Questions - Nonnative Species Rule Changes

FWC Commissioners approved rule changes in Chapter 68-5, F.A.C., specifically, to Rules 68-5.002, 68-5.006, and 68-5.007, regarding nonnative species on February 21st, 2019. These rules cover definitions for the chapter, adding some high-risk species to the Prohibited species list, and possession requirements for Prohibited species.

FWC staff used recent risk assessments and conducted new risk screenings for several species of federally-listed “Injurious” nonnative wildlife not previously regulated as Prohibited in Florida. The results determined these species present a high level of risk to the state. They have therefore been listed as Prohibited species, a status that limits their possession to qualifying facilities for educational exhibition or research use. Prohibited species may not be possessed as personal pets or for commercial use. Grandfathering language was added to allow people in current personal possession of these species to keep their pets for the life of the animal(s) with a no-cost permit.

Additionally, Chapter 68-5, F.A.C. did not include any definitions for key terms used throughout the rule chapter. Adding definitions will improve clarity and intent of the rule.

The new rule changes will become effective on May 2, 2019.

Permit applications will be accepted until the end of the 90-day grace period on July 31, 2019. All permits submitted to the FWC by that date will be reviewed. Permit applications received on or after August 1, 2019 will not be accepted, and owners of newly listed Prohibited species will not be in compliance with state rule.

Frequently Asked Questions - New Definitions

The definitions in 68-5.002 will only apply to the rules in Chapter 68-5.

The FWC does have some general definitions that apply across the agency. However, the FWC covers a broad spectrum of subject matter and some rule chapters are given their own set of definitions that are specific to just the individual chapters. This approach helps clarify terms that may only be used in one chapter or may have different meanings in different chapters. For example, a term may specifically mean one thing when used in the nonnative species rules but may have a slightly different meaning in the rules for protected species, fishing, or hunting.

Frequently Asked Questions - Possession of Prohibited Species

In Florida, Prohibited species may be possessed for research, following approval of the research plan that must include detailed security measures to prevent escape, and for public exhibition by qualifying facilities that meet strict biosecurity measures. They may not be acquired or kept as personal pets or for commercial sale.

Prohibited species may be transferred only to people who hold a permit to import or possess that species. All Prohibited species must be maintained in accordance to the provisions outlined in Chapter 68-5.

Additional regulations restrict the importation, possession, and transfer of certain Prohibited aquatic species.

    1. Mongoose/meerkats (Genera Atilax, Cynictis, Helogale, Herpestes, Ichneumia, Mungos, and Suricata, all species)
    2. Dhole or Indian wild dog (Cuon spp.)
    3. Flying foxes (Genus Pteropus, all species)
    4. Brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)
    5. Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides)
    6. Red-whiskered bul-bul (Pycnonotus jocosus)
    7. Red-billed quelea or dioch (Quelea quelea)
    8. Java sparrow (Lonchura oryzivora)
    9. Pink or rosy starling (Pastor roseus)
    10. Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis)
    11. Yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus)
    12. Beni anaconda (Eunectes beniensis)
    13. DeSchauensee’s anaconda (Eunectes deschauenseei)

FWC staff used recent risk assessments and conducted new risk screenings for several species of “Injurious” nonnative wildlife not regulated as Prohibited in Florida. These results determined these species present a high level of risk to the state.

FWC staff will continue to use risk assessments and risk screenings to assess nonnative species of concern, but no additional species are currently being considered for Prohibited status.

Prohibited species permits are issued to qualifying facilities that use these species for research or public educational exhibition. Prohibited species cannot be kept as pets or for commercial sale.

If you have one of these animals as a pet, you will need to obtain a permit and PIT tag the animal. Applicants will need to submit a completed application form and Critical Incident/Disaster Plan.

If you are a public exhibitor, you must apply for a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit (CSP). If you already have a current CSP, then you can submit a request to have it amended. Permits are only issued to facilities meeting the requirements of Rule 68-5.007(1)(a)-(f).

If you are a researcher, you must apply for a CSP. If you already have a current CSP, then you can submit a request to have it amended. Permits are only issued to facilities meeting the requirements of Rule 68-5.007(2)(a)-(g).

Completed applications or requests for permit amendments may be submitted to the Wildlife Impact Management Section via email to  Nonnativepermitapps@MyFWC.com or by mail to 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.

The Prohibited species permit application is available our website.

Yes. People in possession of these animals can sell or rehome these newly Prohibited species before the rule changes become effective. If you are selling nonnative wildlife, you must have an active sale license. Once the rule is effective, people in possession of these animals will have an additional 90 days to come into compliance with the new rules.

Yes. The Prohibited species rules do not specifically prevent breeding at permitted educational exhibition or research facilities. However, breeding of personal pets is not allowed, as only animals possessed prior to the rule change may be grandfathered for personal use.

If issued a permit to possess Prohibited species, FWC personnel may conduct scheduled or unannounced inspections of the permitted facility. Refusal to allow inspection may result in permit revocation.

If an individual is in possession of a Prohibited species after the 90-day grace period has ended on July 31, 2019 and has not obtained a permit for the Prohibited species in question, the individual will be in violation of the new rule and law enforcement action may be taken. Per Florida Statute 379.4015, violations of Prohibited species rules are a second degree misdemeanor. If charged, the animal will be placed at a licensed facility pending the outcome of the court case.

The FWC can also help find a home for these pets through the Exotic Pet Amnesty Program (EPAP). Animals can be surrendered to the FWC’s EPAP throughout the year by calling our Exotic Species Hotline (1-888-Ive-Got1 or 1-888-483-4681) or at one of our Exotic Pet Amnesty Day events held throughout the year. Animals may be surrendered with no cost or penalty for the owner. Surrendered animals are placed with pre-approved adopters.

Frequently Asked Questions - Grandfathering of Prohibited Species Possession

People in current possession of any of the newly listed species as personal pets can apply for a Prohibited species grandfathered pet permit. Permits will only be issued for animals possessed prior to the effective date of the new rules for the life of those animals. Any grandfathered pets must be marked with a PIT tag.

A Prohibited species grandfathered permit is available for people in current personal possession of the newly listed Prohibited species. You have until 90 days after the rule effective date to apply for this permit.

There is no limit on how many Prohibited species grandfathered pets you may be permitted for. However, only animals possessed prior to the effective date of the rule may be grandfathered. No new pets of these species may be obtained after the effective date of the rule.

No. Only animals possessed prior to the effective date of the rule may be grandfathered. No new pets of these species may be obtained after the effective date of the rule.

People in current possession of the newly listed Prohibited species will have 90 days after the effective date of the rule changes to apply for their Prohibited species grandfathered pet permit. You can apply for this permit now.

If you submit your complete and accurate permit application to the FWC before the 90-day period ends after the rule changes are effective, you will be considered compliant.

No. Commercial use and exhibition by persons or entities that will not qualify for CSP for Prohibited species will not be grandfathered for these activities.

Yes. You can get year-round assistance finding home for any unwanted exotic pets through the FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program.