Animal Keepers to Oppose More Regulations at FWC Commission Meeting in Jacksonville July 13-14
The Commissioners of FWC will meet July 13-14, 2022 in Jacksonville, FL. They will vote on the “Injuries and Escapes” Final Rule on July 13. This rule requires animal keepers to report injuries to themselves, thus requiring citizens to disclose their medical history to the government. Those injuries may also be considered violations. Animal keepers are concerned that the government requiring people to divulge private medical history is a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which grants citizens the "Right to Privacy." This rule also requires keepers to report escapes, even for innocuous native Class III species. These escapes may be considered violations. Animal keepers are concerned that the government requiring people to report themselves for potential violations is a violation of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The United States Association of Reptile Keepers Florida (USARK FL) posted on its Facebook page, “Once again, FWC has gone through the motions of a process to appear to consider stakeholder input, but they have failed to actually take our concerns into account in the language of the final rule. They have not addressed the basic concerns that caused the Commissioners to delay to the vote on the original language of this rule back in December of 2021.”
Animal keepers are also concerned about the proceedings of the FWC “Technical Assistance Group” (TAG) meetings on Nonnative Species in which FWC staff have introduced the terms “Unrestricted List,” “Restricted List,” and “Not Allowed List” as part of a potential regulatory approach for nonnative species. Members of the group, who are appointed by FWC, have urged FWC to take a “guilty until proven innocent” approach in reference to allowing nonnative species to continue to be kept in captivity. The move towards discussion of only allowing certain species to be kept in captivity struck a nerve with animal keepers on the TAG, including fish and reptile keepers.
Joe Hiduke of Nautilus Wholesale, who represented tropical fish keepers on the group, said of the meeting, “It was fascinating being involved in two days of meetings regarding regulatory options that include a 'white list' or 'safe list', but using every conceivable name other than 'white list' or 'safe list'. The current description du jour is 'unrestricted list', a list of species that could be possessed and sold in Florida without restrictions. Which sounds like a good thing for industry until you consider what it takes to be on an unrestricted list, and what happens to the fish (and all other wildlife) that aren't able to go on an unrestricted list. Hint-prohibition is a type of restriction. One of our unsettled details is whether species that haven't been through a risk screening are considered safe until proven otherwise, or considered prohibited until proven safe.
These nonnative species issues are not on the agenda for this meeting, but animal keepers who are concerned with these issues may give comments on “Items not on the Agenda” on July 14.
The FWC Commission Meeting agenda and exact language of the “Injury and Escapes” rule may be found here:
FWC Commission Meeting July 13-14, 2022
Adam W. Herbert University Center
2000 Alumni Drive
Jacksonville, Florida, 32224
For more information and photos on this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call Daniel Parker at 863-441-5067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.