Captive Wildlife Laws Rules Florida

Captive Wildlife Laws Rules Florida

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The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is currently reviewing their rules governing captive wild animals and accepting public comment.  We believe that some important changes in the rules could signicantly reduce the misery endured by many of these animals.  Below are the current rules in grey boxes and Big Cat Rescue’s suggested changes bold/red.

Florida Residents you can help!  Please take a minute to send a quick comment to the FWC here about cub petting, the rule change we think can have the most dramatic impact:  http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51389/p/salsa/web/blog/public/?blog_KEY=31

 

2014 FL Statutes Chapter 379

379.303 Classification of wildlife; seizure of captive wildlife.—
(1) The commission shall promulgate rules defining Class I, Class II, and Class III types of wildlife. The commission shall also establish rules and requirements necessary to ensure that permits are granted only to persons qualified to possess and care properly for wildlife and that permitted wildlife possessed as personal pets will be maintained in sanitary surroundings and appropriate neighborhoods.
(2) In instances where wildlife is seized or taken into custody by the commission, said owner or possessor of such wildlife shall be responsible for payment of all expenses relative to the capture, transport, boarding, veterinary care, or other costs associated with or incurred due to seizure or custody of wildlife. Such expenses shall be paid by said owner or possessor upon any conviction or finding of guilt of a criminal or noncriminal violation, regardless of adjudication or plea entered, of any provision of chapter 828 or this chapter, or rule of the commission or if such violation is disposed of under s. 921.187. Failure to pay such expense may be grounds for revocation or denial of permits to such individual to possess wildlife.
History.—s. 1, ch. 74-309; s. 6, ch. 98-333; s. 34, ch. 2002-46; s. 106, ch. 2008-247.
Note.—Former s. 372.922(3), (4).

The above is the current language in Florida’s state law.  Where it fails the citizens of Florida is in the notion that any person can possibly “possess and care properly for wildlife and that permitted wildlife possessed as personal pets”   or that there are “appropriate neighborhoods” for keeping tigers in your back yard.  As ludicrous as it is, that is our current law, so when the Florida Wildlife Commission said they would consider public input on the rules to carry out that law, it is the basis that we have to work from…at this time.

The following are the rules, as they pertain to exotic cats and as they exist in 2014.  Our suggestions for changes are in Red. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hereinafter referred to as the FWC.

Florida Rules for Keeping Wild Cats

Florida divides the cat kingdom into three Classes.  Class I, Class II and Class III.

68A-6.002. Categories of Captive Wildlife

Class I Cats:Cheetahs
Cougars
Jaguars
Leopards
Lions
Snow leopards
Tigers
Class II Cats:African golden cats
Bobcats, Caracals
Clouded leopards
Canadian lynx
Fishing cats
Golden cats
Ocelots, Servals
Class III Cats:Geoffroy Cat
Jungle Cats
Leopard Cats
Sand Cats; all of the other small cat species too, but almost none are in private hands.

The logic for the classifications is the level of damage or injury that a cat can do; but the threat isn’t only to the person who is mauled or killed, but to the environment.  These are all cats and many are capable of cross breeding with domestic feral cats.  The accidental release of such wild cats into Florida’s fragile eco system could have disastrous results.  For that reason,

68A-6.003. Facility and Structural Caging Requirement for Class I, II and III Wildlife

68A-6.003. Facility and Structural Caging Requirement for Class I, II and III Wildlife

Effective on Monday, December 06, 2010

(1) In addition to the standard caging requirements set forth in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., Class I and Class II animals shall be caged in accordance with the following requirements:

(a) All cages or enclosures of Class I and Class II wildlife, and Class III capuchin, spider and woolly monkeys, except paddocks, approved open air habitats, or outdoor reptile enclosures shall be equipped with a safety entrance. A safety entrance is defined as a protected, secure area that can be entered by a keeper that prevents animal escape and safeguards the keeper, or a device that can be activated by a keeper that prevents animal escape and safeguards entry. Such entrances shall include: A double-door mechanism, interconnecting cages, a lock-down area, or other comparable devices, subject to Commission approval, that will prevent escape and safeguard the keeper. Safety entrances shall be constructed of materials that are of equivalent strength as that prescribed for cage construction for that particular species.

(b) All cages or enclosures constructed of chain link or other approved materials shall be well braced and securely anchored at ground level to prevent escape by digging or erosion. Cages shall be constructed using metal clamps, ties or braces of equivalent strength as the material required for cage construction for the particular species. Cages or enclosures using the ground as flooring must meet the following requirements:

1. For enclosures housing wildlife that exhibits a behavior of digging or burrowing:

Enclosures shall have a footer or bottom apron constructed of concrete, chainlink or equivalent strength material as specified in this rule for the housing of such wildlife. The footer must be a depth of 3 feet. In the instance of a bottom apron, the bottom apron must be securely attached to the bottom of the enclosure fencing or wall and extend inward into the enclosure a minimum of 3 feet. The bottom apron must be buried to prevent injury to the captive wildlife in the enclosure.

2. For enclosures affected by erosion:

Measures must be taken to stop the erosion. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, a footer or bottom apron as described above or other measures capable of ensuring the structural integrity of the enclosure and preventing the escape of the captive wildlife.

(2) In order to assure public safety, the facilities for the housing of Class I and Class II wildlife shall meet the requirements of this rule. Compliance with these requirements is a necessary condition for licensure. For the purposes of this rule, a “facility” means the site at which Class I or Class II wildlife are kept or exhibited, except for those locations where the standard caging requirements are exempted under Rules 68A-6.0041 and 68A-6.005, F.A.C. Upon receipt of an initial application regarding Class I or Class II wildlife, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall notify the county or municipality wherein the proposed facility is to be located of a pending application. Current licensees that desire to expand their inventory to include a family of Class I or Class II species not previously authorized at their facility location shall comply with the requirements herein. Requests to upgrade wildlife classification authorizations shall be considered initial applications for license purposes. Applicants shall complete and submit a Facility Location Information form, FWCDLE_616IV (09-10), which is adopted and incorporated herein by reference. Forms may be obtained by submitting a request to: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600, or at www.myfwc.com/permits.

 

(a) Notification of escapes: Any person authorized to possess any Class I wildlife as listed pursuant to Rule 68A-6.002, F.A.C., must report any escapes from the primary caging or enclosures or the approved facility location; or other enclosure, cage, leash or other constraint when wildlife is away from such approved facility location, to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement. Such reporting shall occur immediately upon discovery of the escape. Any person authorized to possess Class I wildlife shall maintain a list of the current contiguous land owners or neighbors in Part B of the Captive Wildlife Critical Incident/Disaster Plan form FWCDLE_619 (06/09), as required in subsection 68A-6.0022(7), F.A.C. Such list shall include the name, address and contact phone number for contiguous land owners or neighbors. For the purposes of this section a “contiguous land owner or neighbor” shall mean the current resident for all properties sharing a common boundary with the facility location. The entire width of a dedicated roadway shall be considered sharing a common boundary in instances of a dedicated roadway between neighboring properties.

This is impossible to enforce in its current language.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the list of contiguous owners be submitted to the FWC with each renewal and if the FWC learns of an escape, they too should be required to contact all contiguous owners and advise them of the escape; even if the animal has been recaptured. 

(b) Not withstanding other requirements of this rule, facilities licensed pursuant to this section may be transferred through will, trust or probate proceedings to a lawful heir and such facilities may remain in the same location. Said heir must be qualified to receive the classifications of wildlife applied for and shall complete applications for licenses to receive same. The transfer shall not occur until a final on-site inspection is conducted by Commission personnel and the license is approved and issued.

(c) Facility requirements:

1. Property ownership/lease:

a. The facility shall be constructed on property owned or leased by the applicant. If leased the lease shall be for a term of not less than one (1) year from date of application. Such lease shall be subject to initial and annual review and approval by the commission as a condition of said lease.

b. If the property is leased, the lessee must have exclusive rights to occupy, possess and use the property with no restrictions that could prevent the lessee from adhering to the eligibility requirements for licensure with no other in holdings or easements.

c. The existence of any such lease restrictions or termination of the lease shall result in the denial or revocation of the license or permit.

2. Land area:

a. Class I wildlife: The facility shall not be constructed on less than five (5) acres.

b. Class II wildlife: The facility shall not be constructed on less than two and one-half (2 1/2) acres.

The lifespans of big cats can be 20 years.  Any lease should be for at least half of the lifespan of the animal, if not the complete lifespan.  A one year lease shows far too little forethought for the well being of the animal and would likely result in caging that is built to be temporary; lacking in size and quality.

Big Cat Rescue suggests a minimum lease period of 10 years, for five acres, for all wild cat species.

c. The total facility shall not be comprised of more than two (2) parcels of land whether leased, owned or a combination of leased or owned parcels. If more than one parcel, the adjacent parcels must have a minimum of 100 feet common linear boundary.

The limitation on the number of parcels is arbitrary.  As a facility grows it is likely to continue to add adjacent parcels.  The reason for a common linear boundary makes sense if the FWC is trying to insure that wild animal owners don’t just create paper leases, that aren’t real, with neighbors in order to meet the minimum size, but penalizes those who are truly trying to build better buffer zones by or leasing land or buying land around them.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that the total land area for the minimum requirement of acreage must be one parcel or a combination of parcels which must have a minimum of 100 feet of common linear boundary.  This land must be zoned appropriately as commercial, industrial or planned unit development for the purpose of housing wild animals.  

3. Buffer zones:

The facility shall contain a “buffer zone” of not less than thirty-five (35) feet between the caged wildlife and the facility property line.

4. Perimeter fencing:

a. Class I wildlife: The cages of the facility shall be bounded by a fence of not less than eight (8) feet high.

b. Class II wildlife: The cages of the facility shall be bounded by a fence of not less than eight (8) feet high, or as an alternative, a fence of not less than six (6) feet high, with a 2-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang.

c. All vertical fencing and inward angle overhang fencing of the perimeter fence shall be constructed of 11 1/2 gauge chain link or equivalent.

There are places in Florida, housing tigers and bears and other dangerous wild animals who have mis-applied the intent of this rule, but meet the letter of the law by having strands of wire, a foot or more apart, strung around their property and serving as their perimeter fence.  Any wild cat could easily slip through the wire strands and any child or native wildlife or pets could enter as well.  In many cases chain link fencing is used, but creates an attractive nuisance, to those who see wild animals from outside and can easily climb the fence to harass or kill the captive animals.  There is no 8 foot, chain link, or wire mesh fence that a big cat can’t climb.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all new perimeter fencing be 8 feet high with no ability to see through the material of the fence.  All existing perimeter fence should, at the very least, be improved to be constructed of the same materials as the materials used to contain the animals, and at least 8 feet high.  

(d) Exemptions:

The following Class I and Class II wildlife are exempt from the facility requirements of subparagraphs (2)(c)1.-4., as listed above:

1. Permits authorizing possession of infants only including:

a. Class I or Class II carnivores until they reach 25 pounds or six (6) months of age, which ever comes first, provided written documentation is available to verify the age of the animal, the animal is marked or otherwise identifiable, and the animal is provided space for exercise on a daily basis:

b. Class I and II primates until they reach the age of twelve (12) months, provided written documentation is available to verify the age of the animal, the animal is marked or otherwise identifiable, and the animal is provided space for exercise on a daily basis.

2. Crocodilians four (4) feet in length or less.

3. Cats: Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), Servals (Leptailurus serval), Caracals (Caracal caracal), Bobcats (Lynx rufus), African golden cats (Profelis aurata), Temminck’s golden cats (Profelis temmincki), and Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrina).

4. Non-human primates: Uakaris (genus Cacajao), Sakis (genus Chiropotes and Pithecea), and Guenons (genus Ceropithecus) not including Patas monkeys (genus Erythrocebus), De Brazza’s monkey (Cercopithecus neglectus), Blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis), Preuss’s monkey (Cercopithecus preussi) or any other non-human primate of the genus Cercopithecus which exceeds the normal adult weight of fourteen (14) pounds.

(e) Any Class I or Class II wildlife exempt from meeting the facility requirements of subparagraphs (2)(c)1.-4., of this rule must meet the following:

1. Class I wildlife shall not be possessed in any multi-unit dwellings or on any premises consisting of less than one quarter acre of land area.

2. Class II wildlife shall not be possessed in multi-unit dwellings unless the dwelling in which they are housed is equipped with private entrance, exit and yard area.

3. A fence sufficient to deter entry by the public, which shall be a minimum of five (5) feet in height, shall be present around the premises wherein Class I or Class II animals are housed or exercised outdoors.

(f) The above facility requirements relating to land area, buffer zones, and perimeter fencing, shall be effective January 1, 2008, but shall not apply to those facilities licensed to possess captive wildlife species prior to that date. After January 1, 2008, those licensees that desire to expand their inventory to include a family of Class I or Class II species not previously authorized at their facility location shall comply with the requirements herein. Requests to upgrade wildlife classification authorizations shall be considered new applications for license purposes.

There should be no exemptions.  There is no way to enforce the current language and no reason to allow people to keep the animals mentioned in the paragraph above in less space, or with fewer safeguards than what the animal will require as an adult.  Unless they manage to kill the animals from ignorance in the first few months, it will grow up and owners should be prepared.  In the past it was a common practice to farm out baby tigers, baby lions and baby primates for hand rearing so they could be used as pay to play props but that’s the very first thing the FWC needs to end.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that there be no exemptions and that paragraphs (d) and (f) be stricken.  Any existing lesser cats in private possession should be grandfathered in, but the owners should not be allow to breed, buy or acquire more without meeting the full requirements of a new licensee.

(3) Additional requirements for specific species shall be as follows:

(a) Group I – Chimpanzees (over 50 pounds), gorillas, orangutans.

1. Outdoor facilities – Cage construction materials shall consist of steel bars, two-inch galvanized pipe, masonry block or their strength equivalent.

2. Indoor facilities – Potential escape routes shall be equipped with steel bars, two-inch galvanized pipe or equivalent in rooms where the wildlife is maintained.

(b) Group II – Chimpanzees (up to 50 pounds), drills, mandrills, baboons, snow leopards, jaguars, tigers, lions, bears.

1. Outdoor facilities – Cage construction materials shall consist of not less than nine-gauge chain link or equivalent.

2. Indoor facilities – Potential escape routes shall be equipped with wire or grating of not less than nine-gauge or equivalent.

(c) Group III – Rhinoceros, elephants, hippopotamus, cape buffalos, gaur.

Indoor and outdoor facilities – Construction materials shall consist of steel bars, masonry block or equivalent.

(d) Group IV – Crocodiles, gavials, alligators, caimans, komodo dragons.

Outdoor facilities – Bounded by a fence at least five feet in height of not less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or equivalent.

(e) Group V – Gibbons, siamangs, patas monkeys, howler monkeys, uakaris, mangabeys, guenons, sakis, guereza monkeys, celebes black apes, indris, macaques, langurs, proboscis monkeys, spider monkeys, woolly monkeys, and capuchin monkeys, leopards, cougars, clouded leopards, cheetahs, ocelots, servals, lynx, bobcats, caracals, African golden cats, Temminck’s golden cats, fishing cats, wolves, coyotes, jackals, Indian dholes, African hunting dogs, aardwolves, binturongs, and Old World badgers.

1. Outdoor facilities – Construction material shall consist of not less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or equivalent.

2. Indoor facilities – Potential escape routes shall be equipped with wire or grating not less than 11 1/2 gauge or equivalent.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.3761, 379.3762 FS. History–New 8-1-79, Amended 6-21-82, Formerly 39-6.03, Amended 6-1-86, 7-1-90, 7-1-92, 2-1-98, Formerly 39-6.003, Amended 1-1-08, 1-8-08, 8-27-09, 11-8-10, 12-6-10.

 

68A-6.0041. Exceptions to Standard Caging Requirements for Captive Wildlife

Effective on Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wildlife may be temporarily housed in cages or enclosures smaller than the sizes set forth in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., only under the following circumstances:

(1) For transport and for performing and non-performing animals as specified in Rule 68A-6.005, F.A.C.

(2) Wildlife being held for sale by those persons properly licensed pursuant to Section 379.3761 or 379.3711, F.S., or for veterinary care, or quarantine may be temporarily housed or caged in smaller cages or enclosures for a period not to exceed 60 days. With written notification to the Commission, this period may be extended in circumstances where a licensed veterinarian has certified that a longer holding period is medically necessary in the interests of the health, safety and welfare of the subject animals or the public. Medical records concerning all animals for which an extension of the 60-day period is obtained shall be maintained at the facility and shall be made available for inspection, upon request, by Commission personnel. The caging or enclosure of all wildlife temporarily held under this section shall not be smaller than that required for the caged animal to stand up, lie down, and turn around without touching the sides of the enclosure or another animal. All wildlife thus caged or housed shall be permanently marked or their enclosures shall be permanently marked, so as to be traceable to written records indicating the date the wildlife was placed in temporary holding. Such records shall be maintained and made available for inspection by Commission personnel. Commission personnel shall direct dealers to mark wildlife temporarily if, upon inspection, there is no record indicating the date the wildlife was placed in temporary holding.

The existing cage sizes in Florida are already so inhumanely small there should be no exemption to the cages size except for veterinary care.  The FWC typically only inspects once or twice a year, so there is no way to enforce the time restrictions in the current language.  Nearly 40 countries have banned circus acts that use wild animals and there is no reason to allow such barbaric displays.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the only exemption be for veterinary care, or quarantine when wildlife may be temporarily housed or caged in smaller cages or enclosures for a period not to exceed 60 days. With written notification to the Commission, this period may be extended in circumstances where a licensed veterinarian has certified that a longer holding period is medically necessary in the interests of the health, safety and welfare of the subject animals or the public. Medical records concerning all animals for which an extension of the 60-day period is obtained shall be maintained at the facility and shall be made available for inspection, upon request, by Commission personnel. The caging or enclosure of all wildlife temporarily held under this section shall not be smaller than that required for the caged animal to stand up, lie down, and turn around without touching the sides of the enclosure or another animal. All veterinary enclosures shall be permanently marked, so as to be traceable to written records indicating the date the wildlife was placed in temporary holding. Such records shall be maintained and made available for inspection by Commission personnel.

(3) The standard caging requirements, as defined in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., except for the fencing requirements, shall not apply to facilities possessing ratites (ostriches, rheas, emus, and cassowaries) for propagation purposes only and not for public exhibition or as personal pets. Facilities possessing bison for propagation purposes only and not for public exhibition or as personal pets are exempt from the standard caging requirements, as defined in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C.

(4) Newborn and juvenile mammals may be temporarily kept in enclosures below the standard caging requirements and are exempted from the facility requirements of subparagraphs 68A-6.003(2)(e)1.-2., F.A.C., and structural strength requirements, Rule 68A-6.003, F.A.C., as follows:

(a) Newborn mammals may be kept in incubation and rearing facilities. Nursing young may be maintained with their parents with no increase in required cage size for the adult animal for up to twelve weeks, provided that documentation is available to show the age of the young. Such time may be extended with a veterinarian’s statement, showing that such size cage is required for the continued health and welfare of the animals until a certain date.

(b) Juvenile mammals may be kept in enclosures that meet or exceed the size specification in subsection (2) of this section provided that:

1. Written documentation is available to verify the age of the animal.

2. The animal is marked or otherwise identifiable.

3. The animal shall be provided space for exercise on a daily basis.

4. Cages that meet the standard caging requirements shall be provided for Class I and Class II carnivores when they reach 25 pounds or six months of age, whichever comes first. Class III carnivores shall be provided cages that meet the standard caging requirements at six months of age. Class I, II, and III primates shall be provided cages that meet standard caging requirements at twelve (12) months of age.

Other than to provide wild animal cubs to pay to play schemes, it is almost never really necessary to remove babies from their mothers.  There is no way to enforce the provisions that juvenile animals be given space outside of such cages for exercise.  In practice the language just makes it easier for exhibitors to make money using baby wild animals for display, photo ops and petting, and to keep them in cages that are far too small. It is necessary to protect baby wild animals from hurting themselves by climbing and falling though.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the rule require that baby wild animals shall require the same floor space as an adult wild animal, but that adaptations should be made to the enclosure to prevent them from climbing too high and falling.  

(5) Hatchling/fledgling birds and newborn reptiles and amphibians may be held in enclosures that allow for normal postural movements and social adjustments that ensure the health and sanitary needs of the animals.

(6) Birds held temporarily for exhibit only and not for sale may be kept in show cages or enclosures for a maximum of three (3) days, provided that, such birds have sufficient space for perching without touching the sides, top, or bottom of the cage and the health and sanitary needs of the birds are met. Water shall be available in the show cages at all times.

(7) Reptiles and amphibians held temporarily for herptile shows, expositions, and exhibits may be kept for a maximum of three (3) days in enclosures that allow for normal postural movements and social adjustments and that ensure the health and sanitary needs of the animals.

(8) Cages or enclosures for mobility-impaired animals shall meet standard caging requirements, unless it can be demonstrated that such cage or enclosure, or its required accessories, are detrimental to the health or welfare of the animal. In such cases, written documentation by a veterinarian confirming the need for such exemption shall be maintained by the permittee and made available to Commission employees upon request.

(9) For animals held at exotic animal auctions, flea markets, and animal swap meets, said animals may be kept in enclosures that meet the size requirements of subsection (2) provided that such wildlife is maintained in accordance with paragraphs (9)(a)-(g) below. The owner of said wildlife shall be responsible for the welfare of such animals, unless such wildlife is consigned to an auctioneer or other sales representative, at which time the consignee shall be responsible.

(a) Wildlife shall be transported and held in non-injurious enclosures, under conditions that provide fresh air without injurious drafts, and shall be provided protection from the elements.

(b) Wildlife shall be protected from temperature extremes that could be detrimental to the health and welfare of the animals.

(c) Birds and mammals shall be watered at least twice during each twelve hour period.

(d) Fecal and food waste shall be removed from the wildlife’s enclosures daily.

(e) Wildlife held in the same enclosures shall be kept in compatible groups.

(f) Wildlife cages/enclosures shall not be stacked over other cages/enclosures unless excreta is prevented from entering lower cages/enclosures.

(g) Sick or injured wildlife shall be afforded prompt veterinary treatment.

The owner of said wildlife shall be responsible for the welfare of such animals, unless such wildlife is consigned to an auctioneer or other sales representative, at which time the consignee shall be responsible.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.302, 379.303, 379.3711FS. History–New 7-1-90, Amended 7-1-92, 2-1-98, Formerly 39-6.0041, Amended 8-27-09.

Big Cat Rescue does not believe that wild cats of any kind should be held at “exotic animal auctions, flea markets, and animal swap meets” under any conditions.

68A-6.005. Transportation Requirements for Wildlife; Caging Requirements for Performing and Non-Performing Animals

Effective on Monday, June 07, 2010

(1) No person shall import, export, transport, ship or deliver in interstate or intrastate commerce any container or package containing any live wildlife unless each container or package bears, in a conspicuous place on the outside, a tag with both the name and address of the shipper and consignee and the exact contents of the package. The exact content of the package shall include an accurate and legible list by species scientific name, common name and number of each species included in the entire shipment.

(2) General requirements for transporting wildlife in vehicles. This rule subsection applies to all Class I, all Class II and all Class III animals except those listed in subsection 68A-6.0022(2), F.A.C. No vehicle shall be used in transporting any wildlife except as follows:

(a) Vehicles shall be equipped to provide fresh air without injurious drafts and adequate protection from the elements to all animals.

(b) The animal traveling area shall be free of engine exhaust fumes.

(c) Fecal and food wastes shall be removed from the animal quarters daily.

(d) Animal cages shall have openings for emergency removal of wildlife.

(e) Wildlife in transport shall be protected from extremes in temperature that could be detrimental to the health and welfare of the animal.

(f) Wildlife transported in the same cage area shall be in compatible groups.

(g) Wildlife must be transported in a cage or enclosure. The cage or enclosure must be labeled “Live Animal” and list the number of specimens and common and scientific name of the wildlife. For wildlife that is transported in a trailer or compartment of a trailer, a label stating “Live Animal” must be affixed to the trailer access or loading door and the list containing the number of specimens and common and scientific name of the wildlife must be maintained in the vehicle. The animal’s cage or enclosure shall be as follows:

1. Be of sufficient strength and security to prevent escape.

2. Large enough to ensure that each specimen has sufficient space to turn, stand erect, and lie naturally. Provided, however that certain species may be restricted in their movements according to professionally acceptable standards when such freedom of movement would constitute a danger to the animals, their handlers, or other persons. Elephants shall be tethered during transport (except nursing young).

(h) Wildlife shall not be placed in enclosures over other specimens unless each enclosure is fitted with floor which prevents excreta from entering lower enclosures.

(i) Wildlife shall be watered twice daily and fed daily.

(3) Mobile Exhibits – Performing Animals. No mobile exhibit shall utilize the performing animal caging dimensions prior to approval by the Commission. To obtain such approval, the permittee shall provide written schedules to the Commission of wildlife exercise intervals and scheduled performances. The exercise intervals shall be of such frequency, intensity and duration as to provide for the health and welfare of the animal over an extended period, provided that the animals shall not be caged without exercise or performances for more than a 72-hour period. Performing and exercise information shall be verifiable by Commission personnel through inspections. Performing animals used in mobile exhibits shall not be confined in any cage or enclosure that is smaller in dimension; or is not equipped as follows:

(a) Class I and Class II Carnivores (i.e., lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, pumas, bears, hyenas, wolves).

For a single animal, a cage which shall permit the animal to turn or stand on all fours with head clearance, and confined in such a manner so that no animal can injure another. For Class I animals, cages shall be constructed of steel, case hardened aluminum, alloy, or strength equivalent material. If bars are used, bars shall be spaced no more than 2 inches apart. For Class II animals, cage construction shall not be less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or strength equivalent material. Cages of Class I and Class II animals that the public can access, shall be equipped with a physical barrier, which is made of a material to prevent the public from coming in contact with the animals. All cages shall have secure locking devices.

(b) Primates, Class I and Class II. For a single animal, a cage which shall permit the animal to turn and stand erect with head clearance, confined in such a manner so that no animal can injure another. For Class I animals, cages shall be constructed of steel, case hardened aluminum, alloy or strength equivalent material. If bars are used, bars shall be spaced no more than 2 inches apart. For Class II animals, cage construction shall not be less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or strength equivalent material. Cages of Class I and Class II animals that the public can access, shall be equipped with a physical barrier, which is made of a material to prevent the public from coming in contact with the animals. All cages shall have secure locking devices.

(c) Elephants. When not performing or being exercised, elephants shall either be:

1. Securely tethered.

2. Enclosed by an electric fence, under the supervision of at least one qualified handler in accordance with paragraph 68A-6.0042(2)(c), F.A.C., and in an area not accessible to the public.

(d) Class III Animals. For a single animal, a cage which shall permit the animal to turn and stand on all fours, or stand erect, with head clearance, confined in such a manner so that no animal can injure another.

(e) Time limitation on smaller travel caging allowed for housing performing animals. For performing wildlife possessed by traveling zoos and other traveling acts, wildlife shall be housed in cages or enclosures that meet or exceed the specifications as provided in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., whenever such wildlife is housed in such travel cages or enclosures for more than 90 days. Performing wildlife shall not be kept in cages or enclosures below the size required by the standard caging requirements for more than a total of 90 days out of each 120 day period. Such mobile exhibits shall provide an itinerary of planned exhibition times and locations with annual renewal applications.

(4) Mobile Exhibits – Non-Performing Animals. Non-performing wildlife in mobile exhibits shall not be confined in any cage or enclosure that is smaller in dimension or is not equipped as follows:

(a) Class I and Class II Carnivores (i.e., lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, pumas, bears, hyenas, wolves).

For a single animal, the cage length shall be double the body length (excluding tail), with a width that is equal to the body length, and a height that permits the animal to stand on all fours with head clearance. For two or more animals kept together, add one-third more cage length for each additional animal. For Class I animals, cages shall be constructed of steel, case hardened aluminum, alloy or strength equivalent material. If bars are used, bars shall be spaced no more than 2 inches apart. For Class II animals, cage construction shall not be less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or strength equivalent material. Cages of Class I and Class II animals that the public can access, shall be equipped with a physical barrier, which is made of a material to prevent the public from coming in contact with the animals. All cages shall have secure locking devices.

(b) Primates. All cages shall be well ventilated and shall have secure locking devices. Each cage shall have an overhead pull bar and a seat. For two or more animals kept together, add one-third more cage length for each additional animal. For Class I animals, cages shall be constructed of steel, case hardened aluminum, alloy or strength equivalent material. If bars are used, bars shall be spaced no more than 2 inches apart. For Class II animals, cage construction shall not be less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or strength equivalent material. Cages of Class I and Class II animals that the public can access, shall be equipped with a physical barrier, which is made of a material to prevent the public from coming in contact with the animals.

1. Gorillas. For a single animal, a cage 8 feet by 8 feet, with a height at least 2 feet over the standing height of the animal.

2. Orangutan. For a single animal, a cage 7 feet by 7 feet, with a height at least two feet over standing height of the animal.

3. Adult chimpanzee. For a single animal, a cage 6 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet, with a height at least two feet over standing height of the animal.

4. Chimpanzees up to 50 pounds and macaques. For a single animal, a cage 5 feet by 5 feet, with a height at least two feet over standing height of the animal.

(c) Elephants. For one animal in a non-performing capacity, a paddock that is double the body length in length and equal to the body length in width. For two or more animals kept together, increase square footage by one third for each additional animal. Other than for exercise periods, elephants not kept in a paddock shall either be:

1. Securely tethered.

2. Enclosed by an electric fence under the direct, on-site supervision of a least one qualified handler in accordance with paragraph 68A-6.0042(2)(c), F.A.C., and in an area not accessible to the public.

(d) Class III animals (except reptiles). For a single animal, the cage length shall be double the body length (excluding tail), with a width that is equal to the body length, and a height that will permit the animal to stand on all fours, or stand erect, with head clearance. For two or more animals kept together, add one third more cage length for each additional animal.

(e) Time limitation on smaller travel caging allowed for housing non-performing animals. For non-performing wildlife possessed by traveling zoos and other traveling acts, wildlife shall be housed in standard cage specifications as provided in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., whenever such wildlife is present in such travel cages or enclosures for more than 45 days. Non-performing wildlife shall not be kept in cages or enclosures below the size required by the standard caging requirements for more than a total of 45 days out of each 90 day period. Such mobile exhibits shall provide an itinerary of planned exhibition times and locations with annual renewal applications.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.303, 379.304 FS. History–New 8-1-79, Amended 6-22-80, 6-4-81, Formerly 39-9.03, Amended 6-21-82, Formerly 39-6.05, Amended 5-10-87, 2-1-98, Formerly 39-6.005, Amended 8-27-09, 6-7-10.

There is no way in our opinion that keeping a “performing animal” in a space where all it can do is stand up and turn around, or a nonperforming animal do little more than that, is humane.  The idea that requiring that the animal either perform or be let out for exercise once every three days, so it is kept in this tiny box for three full days, is cruel.  Further, there is no way for FWC to monitor if the animal actually is let out every three days except to ask to see a log book that is easily filled with false entries.

Big Cat Rescue philosophically does not believe animals should be in traveling exhibits.  But if they are, they space they spend 95+% of their time in should be large enough from them to at least walk around in, not just stand up and turn around.  Five times their body length should be a bare minimum.

68A-6.004. Standard Caging Requirements for Captive Wildlife

Effective on Thursday, August 27, 2009

(1) No captive wildlife shall be confined in any cage or other enclosure which contains more individual animals, or is smaller in dimension than as specified in this section, or is not equipped as specified in this section, except as defined in Rule 68A-6.0041, F.A.C., or as authorized in accordance with the following:

Requests for deviations from standard caging or enclosure requirements may be granted to allow for different size configuration (length, width and height) if the required square footage is adequate and if the locomotory needs of the animal(s) are not compromised. Wet or dry moats may be substituted for the required fencing for retaining some species of wildlife. Any proposed deviations from the standard caging or enclosure requirements, or proposals to use wet or dry moats to substitute for fencing, or proposals to use open air habitats except as provided herein, must be approved in writing by the Commission prior to the use of the cage or enclosure for housing animals.

Wet or dry moats are not the only variations to caging that can be safe, and the current rule language does not give FWC the flexibility to approve other designs they feel would contain the animals in a secure manner.

Big Cat Rescue requests that the second sentence above should read, “Wet or dry moats, or other cage designs approved in writing by the FWC, may be substituted for the required fencing for retaining some species of wildlife.”

(2) Definitions: Where specified in this section, wildlife cages and enclosures shall be equipped to provide for the protection and welfare of the animals. Such equipment includes, but is not limited to:

(a) Shelter, nest box or den: A structure that protects captive wildlife from the elements (weather conditions). Such structures may vary in size depending on the security and biological needs of the species. They are particularly described as follows:

1. Shelter: A structure which shall provide protection from the elements and from extremes in temperature that are detrimental to the health and welfare of the animal. When vegetation and landscaping is available to serve as protection from the elements, access to a shelter shall also be provided during inclement weather conditions. Such shelter shall be attached to or adjacent to the paddock, habitat, or enclosure.

2. Nest box or den: An enclosed shelter that provides a retreat area within, attached to, or adjacent to a cage or enclosure of specified size, which shall provide protection from the elements and from extremes in temperature that are detrimental to the health and welfare of the animal.

(b) Elevated platform or perching area: A surface or structure, either natural or manmade, positioned above the floor, or above the grade level of the cage or enclosure, that will provide a resting area for the animal(s).

(c) Original floor area: The total square footage required for the initial number of animals specified. For example, this is calculated by finding the new total area required for 4 squirrel monkeys when the original floor area equals 20′ for 1 or 2 animals (4′ x 5′ x 5′ high). For each additional animal, there is an increase in cage or enclosure size by 25 percent of original floor area. For two additional monkeys: 25% x 20′ x 2 animals = 10′; add 10′ to 20′ = 30 total square feet of floor area required for 4 monkeys. New cages or enclosures can be 6′ x 5′ x 5′ high, or any width/length dimension that equals or exceeds the increased cage or enclosure space.

Cats housed together may get along for periods of time and not get along at other times.  Even where our cats get along most of the time, we still sometimes have to separate them when food is involved.  If exotic cats are to be kept together, then there should be double the space for two, triple for three, etc. and the ability to separate them easily into their own space if needed.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all exotic cat species require at least the minimum space prescribed for each individual so that 2 cats in a cage have twice and much space, three cats have three times the minimum, etc.  Cages should be constructed so that if there is conflict or the need to segragate the animals for medical treatment or other reasons, the cage holding multiple animals can be quickly divided into one space for each cat with each space meeting the minimum size requirement. 

Primate section removed…

(4) Carnivores and Certain Omnivores with Similar Requirements:

(a) Wild felines.

In addition to requirements of this section, each cage or enclosure shall be equipped with a shelter(s)/nest box(es) large enough to accommodate all the animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each enclosure shall have an accessible device to provide physical stimulation or manipulation compatible with the species. Such device shall be noninjurious, and may include, but is not limited to, boxes, balls, bones, barrels, drums, rawhide, pools, etc.

1. African and Asian lions; tigers.

a. For one or two animals, a cage 24 feet by 10 feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animal(s) simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.

The notion of keeping the “king of beasts” in a cage that measures 240 square feet is heart breaking.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all Class I cat enclosures be a minimum of 1,200 square feet.  This is the standard established by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries for accreditation as the minimum.  This is a practical standard that balances animal welfare against what is affordable for nonprofit sanctuaries.  If an exhibitor cannot “afford” to meet this minimal standard, they have no business owning the animals.

c. Outdoor cages over 1,000 square feet (uncovered) shall have vertical jump walls at least 10 feet high, with a 2-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang, or jump walls at least 12 feet high, without an overhang. The inward angle fencing shall be made of the same material as the vertical fencing. Wet or dry moats may be substituted for the required fencing provided prior Commission written approval has been obtained.

2. Jaguars, leopards, and cougars

a. For one or two animals, a cage 20 feet by 10 feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.

c. Outdoor cages over 1,000 square feet (uncovered) for cougars shall have vertical jump walls at least 10 feet high, with a 4-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang. Leopards and jaguars shall not be kept in uncovered enclosures except in facilities with wet or dry moats, which have been previously approved in writing by the Commission.

Wet or dry moats are not the only variations to caging that can be safe.  Cougars, leopards and jaguars are all agile climbers.  There is no evidence we know of that leopards and jaguars are better climbers than cougars, and without such evidence we see no basis for allowing open topped cages for cougars but not for leopards and jaguars.  Further, the language here is interpreted by FWC as depriving them of granting deviations for designs for open topped cages for leopards that FWC determines are safe.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that the language be amended to either allow leopards and jaguars to be kept in the same enclosures permitted for cougars by deleting the prohibition against open topped cages for leopards and jaguars, or be amended to allow FWC to approve other designs in addition to moats as follows: “Leopards and jaguars shall not be kept in uncovered enclosures except in facilities with wet or dry moats, OR OTHER CAGE DESIGNS which have been previously approved in writing by the Commission.”

3. Lesser cats (e.g., bobcats, lynx, ocelots, caracal, serval, margay, fishing cats, jungle cats, Teminick’s cats, golden cats)

a. For one or two animals, a cage 12 feet by 6 feet, 6 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.

4. Small cats (e.g., Geoffroy’s cats, jaguarundis, leopard cats, wildcats (Felis silvestris), mountain cats, pampas cats, marbled cats, pallas’ cats, sand cats, oncilla/tiger cats, black-footed cats, flat-headed cats, kodkods, rusty-spotted cats)

a. For one or two animals, a cage 6 feet by 6 feet, 6 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.

5. Cheetahs

a. For one or two animals, a cage 40 feet by 20 feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that the cage sizes set by GFAS (600 sf for small cats and 900 sf for medium size cats) as the minimum humane size be adopted by FWC.  Having a bobcat spend its entire life is a 6 x 12 cage, i.e. 72 sf, is simply not humane.

68A-6.0022. Possession of Class I, II, or III Wildlife in Captivity; Permit Requirements

Effective on Thursday, July 08, 2010

(1) Permits to possess wildlife in captivity, issued pursuant to Section 379.3761 or 379.3762, F.S., and the provisions of this chapter, shall authorize the keeping of captive wildlife, of the type and number specified in applications approved by the Commission, in accordance with law and Commission rules. Captive wildlife maintained under permit shall, unless otherwise authorized, be maintained only at the facility specified in the permit application and approved by the Commission.

(4) No permit shall be issued to any person to possess Class III wildlife for exhibition, sale or personal use unless such person can meet the following requirements:

(a) Be 16 years of age or older.

Children are not allowed to drink or vote.  They should not be allowed to keep wild animals as pets.  They lack the maturity and financial responsibility necessary.

Big Cat Rescue believes the age should be raised to the legal age of 18.

(b) Application for permits to possess Class III wildlife for personal use shall include the satisfactory completion of a questionnaire developed by the Commission that assesses the applicant’s knowledge of general husbandry, nutritional, and behavioral characteristics. Such information shall be documented on the Personal Use Application and Questionnaire form FWCDLE_621 (01/07), which is adopted and incorporated herein by reference.  Forms may be obtained by submitting a request to: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600, or at www.myfwc.com/permits.

(c) Applicants for permits to possess capuchin, spider, or woolly monkeys shall meet the age, experience and examination requirements for authorization to possess Class II wildlife.

(d) Be able to provide satisfactory caging facilities as required in the standard caging requirements, Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., within 30 days of notification of tentative approval for a permit.

(e) Ensure that the conditions under which the wildlife will be held shall not constitute a threat to the public or to the animal.

(5) Qualification requirements for a permit to possess Class I or Class II wildlife:

All applicants shall qualify for permits as follows:

(a) Age Requirement: Applicants to possess Class I or Class II wildlife shall be at least 18 years of age.

(b) Applicants shall not have been convicted of any violation of captive wildlife regulations or venomous reptile or reptile of concern regulations involving unsafe housing of wildlife or that could potentially endanger the public; any violation involving the illegal commercialization of wildlife; any violation involving cruelty to animals; or any violation involving importation of wildlife within three (3) years of the date of application.

Prosecuting wildlife crimes is practically non existent.

Big Cat Rescue suggests applicants should not have been convicted of any felony, cruelty to animals, violent crime nor have been convicted of any violation of captive wildlife regulations or venomous reptile or reptile of concern regulations.

(c) Experience Requirement for Class I permits:

1. Applicants shall demonstrate no less than one (1) year of substantial practical experience (to consist of no less than 1000 hours) in the care, feeding, handling and husbandry of the species for which the permit is sought, or other species, within the same biological family (except crocodilians which shall be in the same biological order; ratites which shall be in the same biological sub-order; and cougars, panthers or cheetahs which shall remain at the genus level), which are substantially similar in size, characteristics, behavior, habits, care and nutritional requirements to the species for which the permit is sought.

2. For purposes of demonstrating compliance, applicants shall submit documentation of such experience, including:

a. A description of the specific experience acquired.

b. The dates and times the experience was obtained and the specific location(s) where acquired.

c. References of no less than two (2) individuals, no more than one of which may be a relative of the applicant, having personal knowledge of the applicant’s stated experience. One of these references must be licensed by the commission for wildlife of the same family and the same or higher class for which the applicant is seeking authorization or a representative of a professional organization or governmental institution. Examples of such organizations or institutions include, but are not limited to, universities, public service agencies, zoological associations, herpetological societies and veterinarians.

d. Additional documentation may include records of prior permits for the keeping of captive wildlife, employment records, and any other competent documentation of the requisite experience.

3. Documented educational experience in zoology or other relevant biological sciences, obtained at the college or technical school level or above, may substitute for up to six months or 500 hours of the required experience.

4.  Providing false information to document the applicant’s experience, by the applicant or any reference, is prohibited as provided in Sections 837.012 and 837.06, F.S.

(d) Experience and examination requirements for Class II permits:

1. Applicants may qualify for a permit for Class II wildlife by documenting one year of experience (to consist of no less than 1000 hours) as defined in subparagraphs 68A-6.0022(5)(c)1.-4., F.A.C., above. If the applicant is unable to document such experience, as an alternative, the applicant may take a written examination. The successful completion of a written examination for the particular species or family, administered by the Division of Law Enforcement, together with the documentation of not less than 500 hours of substantial practical experience (with documentation and compliance procedures as noted in subparagraphs 68A-6.0022(5)(c)1.-4., F.A.C., above) in the care, feeding, handling and husbandry of the species or family for which the permit is sought may be substituted for the one-year/1,000-hour requirement. Upon receipt of an application, the Commission shall notify the applicant of the time and place of the next examination. Applicant scoring at least 80 percent correct on the examination shall be deemed as meeting the examination requirement for the particular species or family.

2. The above requirements shall not apply to applicants for permits to possess ostriches, rheas, emus, cassowaries or coyotes when possessed for purposes other than public exhibition or personal use.

3. The above requirements shall not apply to applicants for permits to possess American alligators in accordance with Section 379.3751, F.S.

4. The above requirements shall not apply to applicants for permits to possess species of the family Bovidae in accordance with Sections 379.3711 and 379.3712, F.S.

Given the fact that there is no way for the FWC to actually verify that the applicant had any experience, and the belief that there are licensees in Florida who paid bribes to other licensees for such falsified paperwork, there should be no documentation accepted on face value.  If an applicant wishes to apply for a Class I or Class II license, the FWC should be notified when the training begins, the regular schedule they will be working and where, and the FWC should be required to do spot checks once a month to verify that such training is taking place.  There is no reason to promote the private possession of wild animals, but if the FWC wants to do that, they should be responsible for taking at least minimal effort to insure adequate training, not rely on a piece of paper that can easily be a total fabication.  A licensee who attests fraudulently to the training hours of an applicant should face loss of their license and should be held liable for damages caused by the applicant’s future use of wild animals.  That would curtail much of the fraud we believe is common in licensees attesting to applicant training.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that the FWC should be notified when the training begins, the regular schedule they will be working and where, and the FWC should be required to do spot checks once a month to verify that such training is taking place.  A licensee who attests fraudulently to the training hours of an applicant should face loss of their license and should be held liable for damages caused by the applicant’s future use of wild animals.

(e) Any licensed corporation applying for a permit or authorized to possess Class I or Class II wildlife must have qualified personnel responsible for the care of such wildlife. The corporation must provide documentation of experience for at least one person.  Such person shall comply with the requirements defined in subparagraphs 68A-6.0022(5)(c)1.-4. and (d)1., F.A.C., above. Such documentation of experience shall be submitted to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, and subject to approval upon initial application and upon each instance of change in qualified person.

(f) Any person authorized pursuant to Section 379.3761, F.S., to exhibit or sell Class I wildlife shall obtain and maintain a current and valid USDA license, where applicable, pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations of Title 9 CFR. Such USDA license shall be obtained within 180 days of initial licensing by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Failure to obtain and maintain a current and valid USDA license may result in denial or revocation of any Class I authorizations issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

USDA typically only revokes a license if a licensee has been cited repeatedly for years for serious violations. I.e. only the worst of the worst exhibitors lose their USDA license.  If a license if revoked and a person cannot exhibit without violating Federal law, why should the language but that they “may” lose their Florida license?  Does it really make sense for Florida to consider them an exhibitor when exhibiting would violate Federal law?

Big Cat Rescue suggests that “…may result in denial or revocation…” be changed to “… will immediately result in denial or revocation…”

(6) Except as otherwise provided, applicants for permits to possess wildlife in captivity shall specify the location of the facility at which the wildlife shall be kept or possessed. Prior to the issuance of a permit for Class I, Class II, or Class III capuchin, spider or woolly monkeys such facility shall be inspected and approved by Commission personnel prior to the issuance of the permit.

(7) Disaster and Critical Incident Plans: Applicants for permits to possess wildlife in captivity as authorized pursuant to Sections 379.3761 or 379.303, F.S., or the provisions of this chapter shall document in writing a course of action to be taken in preparation for disasters or critical incidents. Such course of action shall be documented on the Captive Wildlife Critical Incident/Disaster Plan form FWCDLE_619 (06/09), which is adopted and incorporated herein by reference. Forms may be obtained by submitting a request to: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600, or at www.myfwc.com/permits. This form shall consist of two parts. Part A of form FWCDLE_619 shall be submitted at the time of initial application or renewal; and Part B shall be retained in the permittee’s files at the facility location and be made available for inspection upon request of Commission personnel and the director of the local emergency management agency for the county where the facility is located.

(a) Provisions of this subsection shall apply to permittees maintaining captive wildlife in Florida.

(b) For permittees where the facility is located out of state, the provisions of this subsection shall apply when such permittee is in travel status with Class I or Class II wildlife. In this instance Part B must accompany the Class I or Class II wildlife while in travel status in Florida and shall describe the course of action to be taken in the event of a critical incident or natural disaster in Florida.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.3761, 379.3762 FS. History–New 7-1-90, Amended 7-1-90, 7-1-91, 2-1-98, Formerly 39-6.0022, Amended 4-30-00, 1-1-08, 8-27-09, 7-8-10.

If the public had any idea how minimal the requirements for safety in a disaster are, they would insist that the private possession of wild animals be banned.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that both Part A and Part B be submitted to the FWC and be publicly accessible online for both residents and non residents traveling with wild animals.

68A-6.0023. General Regulations Governing Possession of Captive Wildlife; Public Contact; Transfer of Wildlife and Record Keeping Requirements

Effective on Thursday, August 27, 2009

(1) No person shall maintain captive wildlife in any unsafe or unsanitary condition, or in a manner which results in threats to the public safety, or the maltreatment or neglect of such wildlife.

Taking cubs from their mothers to be used as pay to play props, and cubs who are forced into pools to swim with paying customers exemplify the meaning of “maltreatment” of wildlife.  These practices should be discontinued immediately.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that maltreatment of wildlife includes taking cubs from their mothers to use in handling sessions, pay to play sessions, as photo props and in schemes such as “swimming with tigers.” 

(2) Caging Requirements:

(a) All wildlife possessed in captivity shall, except when supervised and controlled in accordance with subsection (3) hereof, be maintained in cages or enclosures constructed and maintained in compliance with the provisions of Rules 68A-6.003, 68A-6.004 and 68A-6.007, F.A.C.

(b) Cages or enclosures housing captive wildlife shall be sufficiently strong to prevent escape and to protect the caged animal from injury, and shall be equipped with structural safety barriers to prevent any physical contact with the caged animal by the public, except for contacts as authorized under subsection (3) of this rule. Structural barriers may be constructed from materials such as fencing, moats, landscaping, or close-mesh wire, provided that materials used are safe and effective in preventing public contact.

There is no situation in which the public can have contact with wild cats or their cubs that isn’t either dangerous to the person or cruel to the animals.  There is no situation in which a wild cat should be outside of his primary enclosure without being confined to a transport cage of the same strength.  To be clear; there is no situation in which it is appropriate to walk a tiger, lion, cougar, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard or cheetah on a leash.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the phrase “except when supervised and controlled in accordance with subsection (3) hereof,” be eliminated from (2) (a) above.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the phrase “except for contacts as authorized under subsection (3) of this rule.” be eliminated from (2) (b) above.

(c) All cages or enclosures less than 1,000 square feet shall be covered at the top to prevent escape (except paddocks, reptile enclosures and habitats specified below). Class I or Class II wildlife shall not be kept in uncovered enclosures that are less than 1,000 square feet, except as specified in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C. All outdoor enclosures for non-native venomous reptile species and reptiles of concern shall be topped with close-meshed wire or an equivalent barrier to provide additional security as specified in Rule68A-6.007, F.A.C. For the purpose of this section, the following definitions apply:

1. Paddocks: Areas enclosed by fencing, railing or other Commission-approved structures which allow animals to graze or browse.

2. Reptile enclosures: Areas encompassed by smooth walls or other Commission-approved materials which provide safe keeping of venomous and non-venomous snakes, crocodilians and other reptiles.

3. Open air habitats or moated areas: Areas enclosed by Commission-approved fences, walls, or moats which provide safe keeping of species specified in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C.

(d) Caging considered unsafe or otherwise not in compliance herewith shall be reconstructed or repaired within 30 days after notification of such condition. In the event such condition results in a threat to human safety or the safety of the wildlife maintained therein, the wildlife maintained therein shall, at the direction of the Commission, be immediately placed in an approved facility, at the expense of the permittee, owner, or possessor, until such time as the unsafe condition is remedied. In instances where wildlife is seized or taken into custody by the Commission, said permittee, owner, or possessor of such wildlife shall be responsible for payment of all expenses relative to the animal’s capture, transport, boarding, veterinary care, or other costs associated with or incurred due to such seizures or custody. Such expenses shall be paid by said permittee, owner, or possessor upon any conviction or finding of guilt of a criminal or noncriminal violation, regardless of adjudication or plea entered, of any provision of Chapter 379 or 828, F.S., or rules of the Commission, or if such violation is disposed of under Section 921.187, F.S. Failure to pay such expenses shall be grounds for revocation or denial of permits to such individuals to possess wildlife.

(3) Unconfined captive wildlife shall be maintained under rigid supervision and control, so as to prevent injuries to members of the public. No captive wildlife shall be tethered outdoors unsupervised. To provide for public safety, all wildlife shall be tethered or controlled in such a manner as to prevent physical contact with the public and a structural safety barrier, as provided in paragraph (2)(b) above, must be present to prevent physical contact with unconfined Class I or Class II wildlife except in instances where public contact is allowed in paragraph (3)(a) below.

There is no situation in which the public can have contact with wild cats or their cubs that isn’t either dangerous to the person or cruel to the animals.  There is no situation in which a wild cat should be outside of his primary enclosure without being confined to a transport cage of the same strength.  To be clear; there is no situation in which it is appropriate to walk a tiger, lion, cougar, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard or cheetah on a leash.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that paragraph (3) above be eliminated.  

(a) Public contact and exhibition.

1. General: All Class I, II or III wildlife that will be used for contact with the public shall have been evaluated by the exhibitor to insure compatibility with the uses intended. All wildlife shall be exhibited in a manner that prevents injuries to the public and the wildlife. The exhibitor shall take reasonable sanitary precautions to minimize the possibility of disease or parasite transmission which could adversely affect the health or welfare of citizens or wildlife. When any conditions exists that results in a threat to human safety, or the welfare of the wildlife, the animal(s) shall, at the direction of a Commission officer, be immediately removed from public contact for an interval necessary to correct the unsafe or deficient condition.

2. Class I wildlife shall only be permitted to come into physical contact with the public in accordance with the following:

a. Full contact: For the purpose of this section, full contact is defined as situations in which an exhibitor or employee handler maintains proximate control and supervision, while temporarily surrendering physical possession or custody of the animal to another. Full contact with Class I wildlife is authorized only as follows:

I. Class I cats (Felidae only) that weigh not more than twenty-five (25) pounds;

II. Chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas that are not less than six (6) months of age and weigh not more than twenty-five pounds;

III. Gibbons and siamangs not less than four (4) months of age and not more than two (2) years of age;

IV. Elephants as approved in Rule 68A-6.0042, F.A.C.

b. Incidental contact: For the purpose of this section, incidental contact is defined as situations in which an exhibitor or employee handler maintains control, possession and supervision of the animal while permitting the public to come into contact with it. Incidental contact with Class I wildlife is authorized only as follows:

I. Class I carnivores except cheetahs and cougars that weigh not more than 40 pounds;

II. Chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas that are not less than six (6) months of age and weigh not more than 40 pounds;

III. Gibbons and siamangs that are not less than four (4) months of age: no maximum poundage or age limit;

IV. Elephants;

V. Incidental contact with other Class I wildlife must be approved in writing by the Commission prior to the use of the wildlife for incidental contact with the public. Factors to be considered when approving such contact are found in subparagraph (3)(a)1.

3. Public contact or handling intervals for Class I wildlife shall be limited as to frequency, intensity, and duration so that such handling will not adversely affect the health, welfare, or safety of the animals, nor expose the public to injury.

There is no situation in which the public should have contact with Class I animals of any age or any exotic cat species.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all public contact be eliminated and all of the language, except that regarding display only, be eliminated down to paragraph 3. above.  

(4) Any condition which results in wildlife escaping from its enclosure, cage, leash, or other constraint, or which results in injury to any person, shall be considered a violation of subsection 68A-6.0023(1), F.A.C., hereof.

(5) Sanitation and Nutritional Requirements:

(a) Sanitation, water disposal, and waste disposal shall be in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations.

(b) Water: Clean drinking water shall be provided daily. Any water containers used shall be clean. Reptiles and amphibians that do not drink water from containers and those in an inactive season or period shall be provided water in a manner and at such intervals as to ensure their health and welfare. All pools, tanks, water areas and water containers provided for swimming, wading or drinking shall be clean. Enclosures shall provide drainage for surface water and runoff.

(c) Food: Food shall be of a type and quantity that meets the nutritional requirements for the particular species, and shall be provided in an unspoiled and uncontaminated condition. Clean containers shall be used for feeding.

Unfortunately many captive wild cats are fed a diet of road kill, Wal-Mart’s expired meats, and downer cattle, which are animals who have died from unknown illnesses.  It’s a cheap way to feed a growing population of big cats in America, caused by the over breeding for pay to play schemes.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that road kill, expired meats and downer cattle NOT be considered appropriate food for exotic cats.

(d) Waste: Fecal and food waste shall be removed daily from inside, under, and around cages and stored or disposed of in a manner which prevents noxious odors or pests. Cages and enclosures shall be ventilated to prevent noxious odors.

(e) Cleaning and maintenance: Hard floors within cages or enclosures shall be cleaned a minimum of once weekly. Walls of cages and enclosures shall be spot cleaned daily. The surfaces of housing facilities, including perches, shelves and any furniture-type fixtures within the facility, shall be cleaned weekly, and shall be constructed in a manner and made of materials that permits thorough cleaning. Cages or enclosures with dirt floors shall be raked a minimum of once every three days and all waste material shall be removed. Any surface of cages or enclosures that may come into contact with animal(s) shall be free of excessive rust that prevents the required cleaning or that affects the structural strength. Any painted surface that may come into contact with wildlife shall be free of peeling or flaking paint.

(6) No person shall possess any wildlife requiring a permit for personal use, or any wildlife for sale or exhibition, without documentation of the source and supplier of such wildlife. Possessors of such wildlife must maintain an accurate record of changes in inventory including acquisitions and sales or transfers of all wildlife. Possessors of Class I or Class II wildlife must also maintain an accurate record of all births and deaths. Such records shall be open to inspection upon request by commission personnel.

(a) Records of births or deaths must include the date of the birth or death and the quantity and species of each birth or death. For the purposes of this section “birth” shall be defined as the initial hatch or live birth date for the clutch or litter.

(b) Records of acquisition must include the date of acquisition; quantity and species of wildlife acquired; name and complete address of the supplier and permit or license identification number of the supplier where applicable.

(7) It shall be unlawful for any person to buy, sell, or transfer any wildlife to or from an unpermitted entity within Florida. No person shall sell or transfer wildlife without documenting such sale or transfer. The record of sale or transfer must be entered in the transferor’s records and made available for inspection upon request of Commission personnel for a period of  three years after the sale or transfer.

(a) Records of sale or transfer shall include the date of sale or transfer; quantity and species of wildlife sold or transferred; name and complete address of the recipient; and permit or license identification number of the recipient where applicable.

(b) Records of sale or transfer are not required for wildlife that may be possessed for personal use without a permit as specified in paragraphs 68A-6.0022(2)(a)-(v), F.A.C., unless such record keeping requirements are otherwise regulated by other rules of the Commission.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV. Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.1025, 379.303, 379.304 FS. History–New 7-1-90, Amended 2-1-98, Formerly39-6.0023, Amended 8-27-09.

All records should be required to be made public records because there is no way the FWC can monitor the trade in wildlife species. Watchdog groups will do that for free and will alert the FWC and public to improprieties.  There is no situation involving the trade in wildlife species that deserves protection from the public who are put in peril by being forced to live in close proximity to these animals.  There are no trade secrets or legitimate reasons for hiding who is buying, selling and adding to the burgeoning problem of the legal and illegal captive wildlife trade.  With the ability we have today to easily upload documents digitally this does not create a burden for licensees.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all acquisition and disposition records be made public record and that all transactions must be posted online, in full detail, within 10 days of the activity.

68A-6.0024. Commercialization of Wildlife; Bonding or Financial Responsibility Guarantee

Effective on Monday, December 06, 2010

(1) Because the possession of wildlife in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., is commercial in nature any person permitted to possess wildlife per Section 379.3761, F.S., except hobbyist possessors of Class III wildlife, shall demonstrate consistent and sustained commercial activity in the form of exhibition or sale of such authorized wildlife. For the purposes of this section a “hobbyist” is defined as one whose primary purpose for possession of such Class III wildlife is personal enjoyment but may occasionally exhibit or sell such wildlife. Consistent and sustained commercial activity may be demonstrated by the following examples of business procedures including, but not limited to:

(a) A regular media advertising campaign, or Internet Web site;

(b) Signs, billboards or flyers advertising commercial wildlife services or operations;

(c) Regular business hours during which the premises is open for commercial activity.

(d) Written business is conducted on printed letterhead, indicating the name of the company or business;

(e) Documented exhibition of wildlife to the public, with or without a charge;

(f) Sale of wildlife including any lesser acts thereof as defined in Rule 68A-1.004, F.A.C.

(2) It is unlawful to exhibit venomous reptiles to the public without having posted a performance bond as listed below.

(a) A valid performance bond payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall be submitted at the time of initial license application and upon renewal. The licensee shall notify the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in writing within 5 calendar days if the performance bond expires, is cancelled or revoked, or for any other reason becomes invalid. The notification in writing may be delivered by fax at (850) 414-8212, or by mail or hand delivery to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Office of Licensing and Permitting, 2590 Executive Center Circle, Suite 200-Berkley Building, Tallahassee, Florida 32301. The terms of the performance bond shall include the following:

1. The exhibitor shall indemnify and save harmless the injured party if an injury occurs or other damage results from exhibited reptiles.

2. The exhibitor shall fully comply with all laws of the state and rules of the commission governing the capturing, keeping, possessing or exhibiting of venomous reptiles.

3. The performance bond shall be for the duration of not less than the duration of the licensing period.

(b) In lieu of a surety bond, a person may submit a cash bond to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to satisfy the performance bond requirement. Such payment shall be in the sum of $10,000 and may be in the form of cash, cashier’s check, or certified check. In the instance of a check, such instrument shall be made payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Such cash bond shall be refunded to the exhibitor in instances of non-issuance or denial of the initial license application; or the exhibitor has submitted a request for refund to include a notarized statement that they no longer exhibit venomous reptiles.

(c) The performance bond will be forfeited to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission if:

1. An injury occurs or other damage results from exhibited reptiles and the exhibitor fails to indemnify and save harmless the injured party; or

2. The exhibitor fails to fully comply with all laws of the state and rules of the commission governing the capturing, keeping, possessing or exhibiting of venomous reptiles.

(d) The exhibition of venomous reptiles in the absence of a current and valid performance bond, payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in the sum of $10,000 is prohibited.

(3) It is unlawful to possess Class I wildlife without having guaranteed financial responsibility. The following methods of payment will satisfy the financial responsibility requirement:

(a) A valid performance bond payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the sum of $10,000, in compliance with and as noted in paragraph 68A-6.0024(1)(a), F.A.C., above. The terms of the performance bond shall include the following:

1. The possessor shall indemnify and save harmless the injured party if an injury to the public occurs, including accidental death, or other property damage occurs from the Class I wildlife.

2. The possessor shall indemnify and save harmless the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for payment of all expenses relative to the capture, transport, boarding, veterinary care, or other costs associated with or incurred due to seizure or custody of Class I wildlife.

3. The performance bond shall be for the duration of not less than the duration of the licensing period.

(b) Cash, cashier’s check, or certified check in the sum of $10,000. In the instance of a check such instrument shall be made payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Such cash bond shall be refunded to the possessor of Class I wildlife in instances of non-issuance or denial of the initial license application; or the possessor has submitted a request for refund to include a notarized statement that they no longer possess Class I wildlife.

(c) Irrevocable letter of credit issued by a bank, savings and loan, credit union or other similar state or federally chartered financial institution, payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the sum of $10,000.

(d) In lieu of the $10,000 financial responsibility guarantee any person possessing Class I wildlife may maintain comprehensive general liability insurance with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate as shall protect the possessor of Class I wildlife from claims for damage for personal injury, including accidental death, as well as claims for property damage which may arise. The insurance policy shall be for a duration of not less than the duration of the licensing period. A current Certificate of Insurance evidencing proof of insurance maintained by the possessor of Class I wildlife in such amounts as required by this section, including terms, coverage and expiration date, shall be submitted at the time of initial application and upon renewal. The licensee shall notify the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in writing within 5 calendar days if the insurance policy expires, is cancelled or revoked, or for any other reason becomes invalid. The notification in writing may be delivered by fax at (850) 414-8212, or by mail or hand delivery to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Office of Licensing and Permitting, 2590 Executive Center Circle, Suite 200-Berkley Building, Tallahassee, Florida 32301.

(e) The performance bond or financial responsibility guarantee in the sum of $10,000, or any portion thereof, will be forfeited to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission if:

1. An injury to the public, including accidental death, or other property damage results from Class I wildlife and the possessor of such Class I wildlife fails to indemnify and save harmless the injured party; or

2. Class I wildlife is taken into custody or seized by commission personnel. In instances where Class I wildlife is seized or taken into custody by the Commission the permittee shall be responsible for payment of all expenses relative to the capture, transport, boarding, veterinary care, or other costs associated with or incurred due to seizure or custody of the wildlife.

(f) The possession of Class I wildlife in the absence of a current and valid performance bond, payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in the sum of $10,000, or a financial responsibility guarantee in the sum of $10,000, or a current and valid comprehensive general liability insurance with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate is prohibited.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.303, 379.304, 379.305, 379.373, 379.374 FS. History–New 2-1-08, Amended 8-27-09, 6-7-10, 12-6-10.

For years, Big Cat Rescue has requested a list of those complying with the bond and those failing to do so.  Requesting the list often takes months and sometimes it never comes.  When it has there have always been those in possession of Class I animals who were not in compliance, however they were still being allowed to operate.  The “hobbyist” exemption with its subjective test creates confusion about who must possess the bond and its subjectivity makes it difficult to enforce the requirement.  But most important, why should ANYONE who insists on owning a dangerous animal not be required to incurr the minimal cost of a $10,000 bond to provide a small amount of protection to someone who is injured by that animal?  That is like saying people who only drive to the supermarket and back should not have to have car insurance.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that their be no exeptions to the bond requirement – anyone who possesses a wild animals should be required to have the bond.  We also suggest that a reat time list of which exhibitors have a valid in force bond or the required insurance be maintained online and available to the public so neighbors can see if an owner hear them has a bond.  This would require nothing more than a one minute simple entry each time a FWC received a bond or insurance renewal.  This would require much less effort that apparently is currently required to create a current list manually upon request.

68A-6.0025. Sanctuaries; Retired Performing Wildlife and Identification

Effective on Monday, December 06, 2010

(1) Only a corporation that is licensed in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., and exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and described in sections 501 (c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of such code, may operate a wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife.  For the purposes of this section a “wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife” is defined as a facility established for the sole purpose of providing lifetime care for unwanted or infirmed captive wildlife.  Such wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife shall be operated in compliance with the provisions of Chapter 68A-6, F.A.C., and this section.

(a) Each wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife must maintain and have available for inspection proof of current status as a Florida registered not-for-profit corporation and proof of current exemption from taxation under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and described in sections 501 (c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of such code.

(b) Acts which perpetuate the commercial trade in wildlife, including the trade, sale, offering for trade or sale, breeding except as authorized herein, or buying of captive wildlife or parts thereof, by any such wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife are prohibited.

(c) Full or incidental contact between the public and such captive wildlife as defined in subparagraphs 68A-6.0023(3)(a)2.-3., F.A.C., is prohibited.

(d) All wildlife maintained by such sanctuary for captive wildlife shall be permanently identified by means of tattoo, brand, passive integrated transponder (PIT tag), photographic identification, or other method that clearly and permanently identifies that particular specimen so as to be distinguished from other specimens of the same species.

1. For photographic identification the photograph of the specimen must include sufficient distinguishing characteristics (marks, scars, and patterns, etc.) to enable that particular specimen to be distinguished from other specimens of the same species.

2. Record of identification including PIT tag numbers where applicable, along with information about the specimen being identified (species, method of identification, specimen name or number, gender and age) must be maintained in the possessors records for as long as the specimen is possessed. Such records shall be made available for inspection, upon request, of commission personnel. A copy of such record shall be provided to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, upon annual renewal of the license issued in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., and authorizing possession of such wildlife.

(e) Rare, endangered or otherwise protected specimens of wildlife may be transferred for breeding purposes in instances where such breeding program clearly enhances the survival potential of the species.

(f) Any sanctuary possessing Class I wildlife as listed in Rule 68A-6.002, F.A.C., must meet the bonding or financial responsibility guarantee requirements of paragraphs68A-6.0024(3)(a)-(f), F.A.C.

(2) Any person licensed in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., who possesses performing wildlife that due to its age or physical condition may no longer perform, may retain such retired performing wildlife for the purposes of providing lifetime care for said wildlife. Such retired performing wildlife shall be permanently identified and records maintained and submitted as prescribed in subparagraphs (1)(d)1.-2., above.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV. Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 372.921 FS. History–New 8-27-09, Amended 12-6-10.

There are a number of issues with this section.  First, subsection (e) “Rare, endangered or otherwise protected specimens of wildlife may be transferred for breeding purposes in instances where such breeding program clearly enhances the survival potential of the species” is totally inconsistent with the concept of “sanctuary” since true sanctuaries never participate in or promote breeding of wild animals for life in cages and no captive breeding of exotic cats helps the survival of cats in the wild.  Second, Florida law prohibits owning big cats as pets.  A pet owner can evade the prohibition by meeting the requirements and calling themselves a sanctuary.  Third, at least when animals are exhibited the public gets to see the conditions they are in when shown.  This provision allows an exhibitor to set up a separate entity that qualifies as a sanctuary, put animals there as they choose, avoid USDA inspection because USDA only licenses exhibitors, and keep the public from seeing the conditions the animals are kept in.

Big Cat Rescue suggests this section be removed entirely.

 

Florida Residents!  Please help by sending a quick comment to the FWC here:  http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51389/p/salsa/web/blog/public/?blog_KEY=31

Flavio-2013-Vacation-Rotation

Tigers Being Hit By Cars in Wildlife Parks

Tigers Being Hit By Cars in Wildlife Parks

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We are losing rare wildlife in hit-and-run accidents in reserves meant to protect them

 

tigers simbaIn the last week of February, a tigress was killed — a hit and run case in a village close to Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve. She had a cub, who was observed next to its mother’s body, unable to stand, apparently perplexed, in a state of shock. The cub is doomed — at best it will be condemned to captivity, at worst, starve to death, unable to survive without its mother.

 

This is the not an isolated incident. On July 28, 2011, incidentally eve of ‘International Tiger Day’, a three-month-old cub was crushed under a vehicle as she hurried to keep pace with her mother while crossing a road in Corbett Tiger Reserve. Next day, there was another death — this time, a young tigress was killed by a speeding jeep on the State highway at Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.

 

Both these fatalities occurred on roads that slash through tiger reserves which are core critical tiger habitats deemed to be inviolate. Tigers killed on roads make news, the toll on reptiles, amphibians and smaller mammals touches thousands, and is rarely accounted for.

 

Roads also increase the probability of accidental encounters between tigers and people, leading to more conflict situations. They give easy accessibility to timber smugglers and poachers. In Karnataka, in August 2010, forest officials arrested a gang of poachers which killed ‘game’ (including a gaur they shot no less than 22 times) as they drove along forest roads in Bandipur and Nagarhole tiger reserves. A study in the Russian far east showed how roads directly lead to tiger mortality. From 1992 to 2000 the Wildlife Conservation Society studied the fate of radio-collared Siberian tigers in the Russian far-east living in areas with no roads, secondary roads and primary roads. Their findings showed that there was a 100 per cent survival rate for adult tigers living in areas with no roads and just 55 per cent survival rate for adult tigers living in areas with primary roads. The real impact of roads is rarely understood, and rarely finds concern in mainstream planning.

 

Besides tragic accidents that crush rare wild creatures, there are other not-so-obvious but equally lethal fallouts of roads in protected areas. Roads fragment an already highly fragmented habitat. They break contiguity, impinging on forests and well-worn migratory paths of animals, break tree cover and canopy, slice vegetation. Roads serve as conduits to soil erosion and landslides. Crucially, they give accessibility. Roads are the first step to ancillary development and an increasing human footprint in the area. For example, a road through Velavadar National Park in Gujarat is proposed to be upgraded, reportedly to cater to the special industrial and investment zones coming up in the vicinity. The advent of a road marks the death of wilderness.

 

As India aspires for double-digit economic growth, infrastructure development — highways, roads, power and mines — take priority, with little space for ecological concerns. Today, the gravest threat to wildlife is the pressure to open up forests for coal mines, thermal power plants, highways and railways, ravaging pristine wildlife habitats.

 

Let’s concentrate on roads. India’s road network, the second biggest in the world, 4.42 million km, (or 0.66km of highway for every sq km of land), with a target to expand at an ambitious rate of 20km, everyday. From the conservation point of view, roads passing through forests, wetlands and grasslands are of concern. There is a constant, increasing demand for construction of new roads, as well as widening and expansion of existing roads in tiger reserves, corridors, and pristine forests that are home to rare creatures.

 

Take the much-publicised case of NH-7 which will cut over 60km of crucial tiger habitat that links Kanha, Pench and Satpura tiger reserves — a landscape with about 150 tigers. Scientists warn that if the corridor is broken, the future of the tiger in this landscape is doomed. Plans are afoot to expand the highway cutting though Nagarjuna Srisailam Tiger Reserve, and also NH-37 which circumvents Kaziranga, the refuge of the great one-horned rhinoceros and with no less than 100 tigers.

 

There is a road proposed through Flamingo City in Gujarat which will be an unmitigated disaster for India’s only nesting site for these graceful birds. Incidentally, there is also a demand to upgrade the ‘Old Kandi Road’ passing through Corbett, where the young cub was run over in July.

 

Laws receive scant regard in these ambitious networking plans. For example, to carve out NH-6, the National Highways Authority of India ploughed through the tiger corridor that connects Nagzira Sanctuary and the Navegaon National Park in Maharashtra, without mandatory permissions, bypassing wildlife and forest laws. Similarly, the NHAI gave short shrift to preconditions laid down by the Forest Advisory Committee when it allowed the diversion of forest land to expand the highway through the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong elephant corridor.

 

While one can understand the imperative of building and expanding roads and highway network, that does not offer an excuse to ignore and circumvent the laws of the land. In fact, in 2010, the then Surface Transport Minister, Mr Kamal Nath (ironically, previously also the Union Minister for Environment and Forests), pressed for the NHAI to be able to avoid all regulatory committees like the Forest Advisory Committee and the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife while building and expanding highways, a move that was fortunately laid to rest given that it contravenes the law of the land.

 

The grave ecological impacts of roads through protected areas and wildlife corridors cannot be overstated, and with the demand for new roads and expansion of roads through protected areas, critical tiger habitats and corridors coming up frequently, it is crucial that the NHAI takes on board ecological concerns.

 

There needs to be close coordination between the Ministries and departments concerned to ensure that growth imperatives do not undermine wildlife concerns; that roads do not leave behind a legacy of carcasses, but build bridges to minimise the grave impacts on wildlife and habitats.

 

For, isn’t the ecological imperative equally crucial to our development ambitions, given that forests are the fount of, and nourish, most of our rivers?

 

The writer is a member, National Board of Wildlife

 

http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/item/51234-not-all-roads-lead-to-progress.html

Today at Big Cat Rescue Nov 22

Today at Big Cat Rescue Nov 22

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Thanksgiving Big Cat Love Story

Take our poll here about what you love most about cats:  http://www.facebook.com/bigcatrescue

 

Check Out These Big Cat Thanksgiving E Cards

Check Out Hundreds of These Big Cat Thanksgiving E Cards

 

Mark your calendars!

Fun Fur All Ball at Skipper’s

Join us for a benefit concert at Skipper’s Smoke House in Tampa on Sunday December 11th. Enjoy musical entertainment from Juanjamon Band, Skull and Bone Band, The Human Condition, and Sunset Bridge while perusing the raffle and auction items, including original paintings created live during the show by local artists.

The Fun Fur All Ball is from 4-9 PM. Tickets are a $10 minimum suggested donation. Check out  Skipper’s facebook page and Like them.

Shere Khan and China Doll the tigers snuggling

Shere Khan and China Doll the tigers snuggling

Beautiful flowers blooming down Easy Street entrance to BCR

Beautiful flowers blooming down Easy Street entrance to BCR

Jamie Veronica lets Windstar the bobcat into his new room addition

Jamie Veronica lets Windstar the bobcat into his new room addition

Rosey recycling elephant ears that were culled for cage painting

Rosie recycling elephant ears that were culled for cage painting

Big Cat Rescue staff photographer out gathering SandCat photos

Big Cat Rescue staff photographer out gathering SandCat photos

Carole Baskin cutting door into Windstar bobcat's new room addition

Carole Baskin cutting door into Windstar bobcat's new room addition

Windstar the bobcat raced in circles around his new Cat-a-tat

Windstar the bobcat raced in circles around his new Cat-a-tat

Regina giving Simba the tigress her evening meds

Regina giving Simba the tigress her evening meds

Alex the tiger enjoying his dinner after a long day of lake gazing

Alex the tiger enjoying his dinner after a long day of lake gazing

Raindance the Bobcat 2011 Nov 22

Raindance the Bobcat 2011 Nov 22

Save Wild Tigers

PETITION PRESSES CHINA TO END ALL TIGER TRADE

Zero tolerance is the only way to preserve the last wild tigers

 

LONDON: The Environmental Investigation Agency today endorses a new petition calling on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on tiger trade.

 

The petition has been organised by TigerTime, an initiative of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which has garnered mass public and celebrity support to raise awareness of the plight of the world’s last remaining wild tigers and campaign to reverse its decline.

 

The petition urges: “I appeal to Premier Wen Jiabao to send a clear message to his government, calling for an end to all tiger trade within China. This is to include a call for a zero tolerance policy applied to all trade of all parts and derivatives of tiger and other protected Asian big cats, from all sources.”

 

It has been launched almost a year to the day since Wen Jiabao, at the 2010 International Tiger Conservation Forum in St Petersburg, promised the world his country would “vigorously combat poaching, trade and smuggling of tiger products”.

 

However, China has refused to answer questions about the implementation of its controversial 2007 Skin Registration Scheme, allowing tiger and leopard skins from ‘legal origins’, including those from captive-bred big cats, to be registered, labelled and sold.

 

A lack of transparency as to how authorities determine the legality of skins, coupled with inadequate enforcement and growing corruption, is creating a smokescreen for the illegal trade in tiger and leopard skins and derivatives in China.

 

“EIA has often worked with the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation as a fellow member of the Species Survival Network and is pleased to wholeheartedly endorse its TigerTime petition,” said EIA Lead Campaigner Debbie Banks.

 

“China has had more than enough time to begin putting its house in order along the lines of Wen Jiabao’s promises in Russia, but instead of shutting down the tiger farms and embracing a zero-tolerance policy on the trade in tiger and big cat skins and derivatives, it instead seems dead set on heading in the wrong direction.”

 

The TigerTime initiative has secured the support of a large number of household names since launching in June, including Samantha Fox, Sir Paul McCartney, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais, Sir Roger Moore, Sir Michael Parkinson, Susan Sarandon, Anjelica Huston, Jeremy Irons, Paula Abdul, Neil Gaiman and

Joan Jett.

 

The TigerTime ‘Ban the Tiger Trade’ petition can be found at www.bantigertrade.com.

 

 

Interviews, footage and stills are available on request: please contact Debbie Banks, at debbiebanks@eia-international.org or telephone 020 7354 7960.

 

 

EDITORS’ NOTES

 

1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based Non Governmental Organisation and charitable trust (registered charity number 1040615) that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals.

 

2. The EIA report Enforcement not Extinction: Zero Tolerance on Tiger Trade outlines EIA’s recommendations for urgent actions to reverse the tiger’s decline http://www.eia-international.org/enforcement-not-extinction.

 

3. EIA has written to China seeking clarification over the 2007 Skin Registration Scheme and raised questions about it from the floor at UN meetings, but China has failed to respond. Read our briefings at http://www.eia-international.org/leopards-losing-out-at-cites-as-parties-let-reporting-slide & http://www.eia-international.org/enforcement-and-asian-big-cats

 

4. The International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg in November 2010 resulted in the adoption of the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) and the goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022; see http://www.globaltigerinitiative.org/download/St_Petersburg/GTRP_Nov11_Final_Version_Eng.pdf

 

5. It is estimated there are between 3,200-3,500 wild tigers remaining in the world.

 

6. The Species Survival Network (SSN), founded in 1992, is an international coalition of more than 80 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) committed to the promotion, enhancement and strict enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Visit the SSN website here www.ssn.org.

 

 

Environmental Investigation Agency

62-63 Upper Street

London N1 0NY

UK

www.eia-international.org

Tel: +44 207 354 7960

Fax: +44 207 354 7961

 

ALERT – UPDATE

The County went in this morning and removed all shelters and dismantled feeding stations at Saddle Creek Park. The County has the opportunity to take the most effective and humane action now, but they are not. They have begun their plan to try to starve the cats to death. They have created this problem by not enforcing Parks Ordinance preventing “dumping” of animals and now want to enforce ordinances against citizens being humane to these animals. The bottom line is that removal of the cats or attempted starvation of the cats will not solve the issue. Properly managed TNR programs, like the one being run by Feral Fanciers, will solve the issue at no expense to the taxpayers of Polk County. If you are angry about this now is the time toSPEAK UP. The County will listen to the protests of the citizens more than they are listening to us. Contact the people below and tell them how you feel. Forward this email to others and encourage them to speak up to. THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE THESE CATS IS TO SPEAK UP.
It is time for all of us to contribute our time and voice to helping the cats. TNR IS THE ONLY HUMANE SOLUTION

TAKE ACTION NOW!
Let these people know that you want the only effective and humane solution for feral cats in Polk County:
Letter to the Editor:voice@theledger.com
Tom Palmer:tom.palmer@theledger.com
Tom Palmer BlogCat Colonies on Public Lands
Parks and Recreation
Jeff Spence, Director
JeffSpence@polk-county.net
Phone: 863-534-7377
4177 Ben Durrance Road · Bartow, FL 33830
Michael Callender, Parks and Recreation Manager
mikecallender@polk-county.net
Phone: 863-534-4340
General Office: 863-534-4340 · Fax:863-534-7006
515 Boulevard St. · Bartow, FL 33831
County Manager
Jim Freeman, County Manager
jimfreeman@polk-county.net
Phone: 863-534-6444
County Commissioners:
Bob English, Commissioner
Phone863-534-6450
bobenglish@polk-county.net
Melony Bell, Commissioner
Phone863-534-6434
melonybell@polk-county.net
Edwin V. Smith, Commissioner and Chairman
Phone863-534-6050
Ed.Smith@polk-county.net
Todd Dantzler, Commissioner
Phone863-534-6422
todddantzler@polk-county.net
Sam Johnson, Commissioner and Vice Chairman
Phone863-534-6434
samjohnson@polk-county.net
ALL: Office Address: 330 W. Church Street, Bartow
Mailing Address: Drawer BC01, P.O. Box 9005, Bartow, Florida 33831-9005
Feral Fanciers, Inc.
PO Box 92330
Lakeland, FL 33804
Today at Big Cat Rescue Oct 7

Today at Big Cat Rescue Oct 7

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Today at Big Cat Rescue Oct 7

Big Cats love pizza too! …. well pizza boxes …. Big Cat Rescue is always trying new enrichment ideas and recently discovered that our Tigers, Lions & Leopards love the smell of used pizza boxes! Watch the big cats have fun destroying the pizza boxes!

Did you enjoy the video? If you did and you want to help support the sanctuary, please consider taking a minute of your time to vote for us to win $25,000!

If you live in LA, TX, FL,AZ, CO, NM and Texarcana, AR and Salt Lake City, UT and at least 13 years of age or older we need you to vote 5 times a day for Big Cat Rescue!

Voting ends Oct 15. You can do all 5 votes in a row each day.http://www.albertsonscpchallenge.com/index.php
Our code number is 0063. Please vote every day!

Extinct cougar caught on film in NY state 2011 Oct 07

Extinct cougar caught on film in NY state 2011 Oct 07

Every day we get calls from people asking us to relocate bobcats and cougars. Here is a unique situation where a cougar has been caught on film in NY where they are reported to be extinct.

here is a picture of a mountain lion that has been roaming in the hills behind my brother in laws house for about 4yrs. we live in NY state. the neighbor finally used an night vision camera of some sort to get the picture i believe. I really do not want anyone to kill this animal but it does need to be taken away from the area before it gets killed or it kills and i would appreciate any help you can give me as far as you coming to take it or letting me know of who i can contact that would help. and yes i did say NY state, about an hour to hour and a half north of NYC. DEC is unhelpful and claim there are no mountain lions here but they are wrong. please at least email me back to let me know if you can be of any help or who can help!!!

thank you so much, Name Withheld

Dear Name Withheld,

This is VERY cool that there is an actual photograph of a cougar in NY because they are considered extinct there.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6974.html

I have copied the DEC because this is a cougar (or mountain lion, as you called it) whereas most people misidentify bobcats as being cougars.

Relocating doesn’t work. These animals travel hundreds of miles to get back to their home territories and wreak havoc in the process because they are then forced into hunting in unknown areas and will often take the easy way out.

If the cat has been living free in your brother’s area for 4 years, the cat should be protected where he / she is. They make awful pets, but great neighbors as they keep the vermin population in check.

For the cats,Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

Carole.Baskin@BigCatRescue.org
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
Office 813.920.4130 Cell 813.493.4564 Fax 885.4457Caring for cats – Ending the trade

 

Update:  Cougar photos is from Wyoming and not New York:

 

Please view the following link to the Vague But True website.
If you scroll down to the second article, on the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll notice that the photo you sent me is actually from a campsite in northwestern Wyoming (not New York).  The article is titled MOUNTAIN LION NO MATCH FOR CHAIN SAW.
A sighting of a mountain lion in New York is possible but highly unlikely.  If you, or someone you know has a legitimate sighting of a mountain lion in Putnam County, please feel free to contact the Region 3 Wildlife Office to report it.
Region 3 (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam,Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties)
21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561-1696
If you have any further questions regarding this issue, please feel free to contact me directly.
Jamie LaBoissiere
NYSDEC
Game Management
The impression on our heart is forever

The impression on our heart is forever

Do you know what these white spots are called and what they are for?

Do you know what these white spots are called and what they are for? Post your answers in the comments section below.

New tiger, Arthur, from TX up on one of his platforms

New tiger, Arthur, from TX up on one of his platforms

Today at Big Cat Rescue Sept 22

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Today at Big Cat Rescue Sept 22

Sky and Zoe from http://wildtrack.org present to Big Cat Rescue staff their FIT system

Sky and Zoe from http://wildtrack.org present to Big Cat Rescue staff their FIT system

Zoe and Sky show Jamie and Gale what they are looking for in tiger tracks

Zoe and Sky show Jamie and Gale what they are looking for in tiger tracks

The tracks are fed into a database that will then be able to discern cats by their tracks

The tracks are fed into a database that will then be able to discern cats by their tracks

BCR will take tracks from all of our clawed tigers but rain is going to cut it short today

BCR will take tracks from all of our clawed tigers but rain is going to cut it short today

Rainy weather is perfect for tigers and ducks but not so much for the keepers

Rainy weather is perfect for tigers and ducks but not so much for the keepers

Alex tiger has been waiting since yesterday to get a chance to make his mark

Alex tiger has been waiting since yesterday to get a chance to make his mark

Foot print and camera traps are a much less invasive way to study big cats

Foot print and camera traps are a much less invasive way to study big cats

The complex data sifting program has better than 90% reliability in telling tigers apart

The complex data sifting program has better than 90% reliability in telling tigers apart

Each month Big Cat Rescue sends out a Volunteer Newsletter that includes a story about some of Big Cat Rescue’s cats. This month was one that I thought everyone here might enjoy.

What most of you probably do know is that PurrFection and PurrSistence the ocelots were litter mates who were born here in 1996.  What you may not know is why.

Back then we believed zoos and breeders who said that ocelots are endangered and should be bred for conservation purposes.  AZA zoos were starting up something called the Brazilian Ocelot Project and member zoos were purportedly paying $3,000 to Brazil for each ocelot they took from the wild there to be part of this breeding program.  Their goal was to breed ocelots in zoos and send some of them to TX to re-establish the populations that had been wiped out by hunters.

We had healthy ocelots already and wanted to do our part to re-establish these lost TX populations and did not want cats to be taken from the wild, so we offered to help.  What was soon discovered by the zoos though is that ocelots have regional instincts.  In Central and South America ocelots eat snakes because most of them are non poisonous.  When these ocelots were released into TX they went after rattlesnakes, and the project was over almost instantly upon release.

That’s why PurrFection and PurrSistence still live here and part of why we quit breeding.  Even with the smaller species of wild cats, there is too much risk in trying to breed for release when the real answer is in protecting habitat and enabling native populations to rebound.  You will hear a lot of nonsense by tiger breeders these days claiming they are breeding for conservation.  Now that the US Fish & Wildlife Service is about to rescind the generic tiger loophole, the bad guys are getting even more outrageous by claiming that they are breeding extinct species of tigers and that their tigers are purebred.  This is not true.  The only purebred tigers who can be used in Species Survival Plans are in AZA accredited zoos but even then, there is no legitimate release program for captive bred big cats.

I thought you might also find interesting some of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes here involving exotic cats that your hard work is helping to save, even though you may never see the cats.

Since the last newsletter there have been several cases where people have reported bobcat and cougar sightings.  One was a mother bobcat trying to get her kitten across a busy 4 lane highway in Lakeland.  We drove out to make sure no one got killed.

Someone in AZ found a baby bobcat who had been left for two days by her mother as the people stayed back and watched for her return.  After a storm nearly drowned her they decided the mother wasn’t coming back, brought her in and began searching for a local rehabber.  No one was calling her back and every where she turned Big Cat Rescue appeared as the authority on rehabbing bobcats so she called us.  We talked her through the emergency care and who to contact at the AZ Dept. of Wildlife to find a rehabber to help make sure this little one ends up back in the wild, where she belongs.

Another bobcat sighting was in the stairwell of an apartment complex in New Port Richey.  Management wanted the cat trapped or killed and by the time we got off the phone with them the bobcat was a minor celebrity there and the manager was planning on a big PR campaign for why having bobcats was much better than having rats.

A cougar report came in from both Riverview and Oldsmar with similar requests and results.  Initially callers just wanted the cats gone, but by the time we got done with them they were organizing neighborhood watch teams to try and gather photos, footprints and evidence to persuade the FWC to declare their area Florida Panther protected habitat.

When the people promoting Florida Panther week said they would have a presentation that let people know what it was like to hold a panther kitten we contacted them to say we would be a major sponsor of the first ever Florida Panther Festival, but only if there were no live displays of wild cats.  They have agreed that no live cats will be used in their event and said it was never their intent.

A concerned citizen in Canada sent us photos of a lion with broken teeth at Gudzoo and asked if exposed roots were always painful. Dr. Wynn replied with a web page reference that indicates that to be the case. This zoo is already in the process of being closed down for a plethora of other violations, but this expert opinion helps make the case for why they should not be allowed to exhibit big cats.

I am sure there were more, but another inquiry came from Sri Lanka about a wild leopard who had an eye injury.  They were asking for expert advice on what could be done for her so we hooked them up with the vet who has helped us with Bagheera, Jefferson and Narla’s eyes, Dr. Tammy Miller Michau Diplomate, American college of veterinary ophthalmologists.  She was able to advise them that the injury did not appear to be causing her pain and was probably best left alone unless she began finding it too hard to hunt.

We have also been working to get more malls and fairs to quit allowing the exhibit of wild cats at their venues.  So far the CatLaws.com letter writing campaigns and the work by Susan Bass to educate the malls and media have been paying off.  At last count the number of comments on rescinding the generic tiger exemption was over 11,000 and appear to be almost entirely in favor of the new rule.  If you haven’t commented yet, please do so now and say, “I am in favor of rescinding the generic tiger exemption.”  That’s all you need to say. http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027-0001