6/2/13 FWC Response
July 14, 2013 in Admin
|Response Via Email (LE-TM)||06/26/2013 02:30 PM|
|Dear Linda Sue:
Thank you for your letter informing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) of your concerns regarding the welfare of the wildlife at Big Cat Rescue, Inc. (BCR). Your complaint was forwarded to and reviewed by FWC Division of Law Enforcement, Captive Wildlife Office staff.On September 6, 2012, FWC Investigators James Manson and Daryl Amerson conducted an inspection of BCR, in response to complaints received about BCR exhibiting rehabilitated animals on live web cameras or on the Internet. Eleven out of the fourteen of Internet links in your complaint are duplicates of links addressed by Investigator Manson’s and Amerson’s inspection. At the time of the inspection (Reference Number FWSW12OFF9040), the Investigators found no violations, and advised that the links reviewed in the inspection were not under the control of BCR, were not displaying native wildlife, were not public, or were not displaying an animal undergoing rehabilitation.
Three out of the fourteen links were not reviewed by the Investigators during the September 6, 2012, inspection. On March 11 and 12, 2013, FWC, DLE Captive Wildlife Office staff reviewed the other three links. These three links were also determined to be displaying non-native bobcats and were images of some of the same non-native bobcats displayed in some of the other links mentioned. No violations were found at that time. The links that we received in June 2013 are duplicates of the links or material that have already been addressed by FWC staff on the above dates.BCR has a current Permit to Exhibit Rehabilitating Wildlife, which authorizes exhibition of rehabilitating wildlife in accordance with permit conditions.
Non-native bobcats and other wildlife may be exhibited under a License to Possess Class I/II or III Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale, in accordance with Florida’s rules and regulations. BCR has a current License to Possess Class I and/or Class II Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale and a current License to Possess Class III Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale. FWC staff does not have direct access to nor keeps records of the number of bobcats that BCR or other wildlife rehabilitation facilities take in and/or release.
FWC staff has reviewed your complaint along with past complaints related to feeding live prey, specifically domestic rabbits, to wildlife under active wildlife rehabilitation. FWC has no rules prohibiting the feeding of live prey to predators that are in rehabilitation status and understands that there is need to mentor a predator’s natural instinct to sustain itself by catching and killing its own food. FWC Legal Staff and a State Attorney Office’s prosecutor have provided the opinion that the use of rabbits as live prey items does not violate Florida Statutes regarding animal cruelty. If you would like to make changes to Florida’s rules and regulations to affect live feeding, or would like to affect the methods that rehabilitators use, FWC staff would suggest working with wildlife rehabilitator organizations to change their rehabilitation guidelines and to make suggestions to FWC’s Commissioners.
We appreciate your concerns regarding this matter and hope that this response answers your questions. We do understand that this process can be viewed as offensive by some people. We will continue to monitor these issues on a case by case basis. If you have any questions, please call Captain George LaMont at (850) 488-6253, or write to him at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, Captive Wildlife Office, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.
FWC Customer Service