FWC requests public input on venomous reptile rules

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to know the attitude of the public regarding the possession and management of venomous reptiles by zoos, as well as individual residents in their homes. 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. In order to effectively receive information and direction from the public, the agency has developed an online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/VR-Rule, and will be accepting survey responses and recommendations through July 27, 2016.

“This survey is designed to solicit opinions from members of the public about Florida’s venomous reptile rules, as well as gauge what they think about venomous reptiles being possessed in Florida in general. There are a number of questions designed to gather important input on how we can best move forward on this subject,” said Capt. Kara Hooker with the Captive Wildlife Section.

The FWC has also created a link for recommendations from the public on this subject at MyFWC.com/License/Captive-Wildlife/.

FWC staff have been working with a Technical Assistance Group consisting of industry experts and other interested parties to refine proposed changes to existing rules, including a possible venomous reptile classification system. Staff will present a draft rule at a future Commission meeting.

“Our meetings with the TAG have been very productive and now we would like to get additional input from members of the public. This combined data will allow us to present a comprehensive package to help our Commissioners make an informed decision about future venomous reptile rules,” said Hooker.

Based on reviews of existing regulations and recommendations received, proposed changes to the existing rules include modified training, caging and handling requirements to increase biosecurity, and minimizing the risk to licensees and the general public due to escapes and/or bites from venomous reptiles.

Staff will present draft rule language regarding venomous reptile ownership at the September Commission meeting for consideration.

For more information about captive wildlife permitting, visit MyFWC.com/License and click on “Captive Wildlife.”