111 Class I facilities do not appear to have complied w/ 10k bond

Avatar BCR | March 9, 2009 1 View 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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We fought hard to get a law passed that forces Class I owners to carry a $10,000.00 bond.  The FWC finagled the language to read Class I Exhibitors, but at the time we didn't fight that language change too much, because the only license you could get to have a lion, tiger, bear, chimp, etc. said you had to Exhibit or Sell.  They weren't separate licenses.  The intend of the bond was to make sure anyone with a big, dangerous, wild animal had a bond posted with the state to cover damage the animal may do to the public or property.

The following is a summary of the 2009 list of Class I and Class II licensees in FL.

In 2006 the FWC listed 350 licensed addresses for Class I and Class II animals    
In 2006 254 were listed by address, and 96 only listed a P.O. box     
In 2009  there were 407 licensed addresses for Class I and Class II animals  & all had a street address listed (after we raised Cain over it)
In 2007 the bond requirement was passed for all Class I Exhibitors to carry a 10,000.00 bond as of Jan 2008   
In 2007 the only legal way to possess a Class I animal was for Exhibition or Sale
In 2009 222 licensees possessed Class I animals and most should have been subject to bond by their activities       
In 2009 122 licensees did not have current bonds and 111 probably never did according to this list               
57    More Class I & II licensees than just 3 years ago
122    Licensed locations for Class I Cats:  Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Jaguars, Bears, Chimps, etc.   
114    Licensed locations for Class II cats, such as Cougars, Servals, Bobcats, Caracals, Lynx, Clouded Leopards, and others           

In fairness to the FWC the list they sent me on 2/12/09 (see tab) showed our bond to expire on 1/9/09 and we had renewed it in Jan 2009, so their info could be outdated by a couple of months although their list did have several notations of facilities that obviously renewed in Jan 2009 as they expire in Jan 2010.               
Still is looks like 111 of the facilities never did post a bond as  no expiration date was listed.        
This should be investigated thoroughly.  The FWC will usually say they are breeders and not exhibitors, but that just isn't true.  One of the facilities (Kathy Stearns) was just in the news a couple days ago letting people pose with a tiger for photos, and yet this report indicates that she never posted the bond.  Even an Internet investigation will show that most of the non bonded facilities do exhibit Class I animals to the public.

I think the lawmakers who passed the bond requirement, at the suggestion of their many constituents, need to make sure it is being enforced.  They should also stop the FWC from passing a rule (their new Sanctuary definition) that gives Class I owners a loophole to avoid posting the bond.

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457


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