Friday, October 03, 2008

Zoo trades

Letter to the editor at WFLA

Thank you for continuing to expose Lowry Park Zoo.  While the 200+ animals who went to and from Lex is awful, the fact that there have been 10,000 such trades with other "zoos" is even more disturbing.  I would like to know what other, non AZA accredited facilities, he has been trading Lowry's animals with and where ALL of them are now.  If the public knew how often these creatures are traded like a big boy's game of collectible cards they wouldn't stand for it.  If people knew how young many of these animals are when they die, or disappear from the records they would know why we at Big Cat Rescue are so opposed to the entire zoo industry. 

I still haven't heard anyone mention Florida's ugly little secret of game ranches. 

These rules are from the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) and the Florida Statutes

GAME FARM REGULATIONS
Sec. 372.16. Private game preserves and farms; penalty.—
(1) Any person owning land in this state may establish, maintain, and operate within the boundaries thereof, a private preserve and farm, not exceeding an area of 640 acres, for the protection, preservation, propagation, rearing, and production of game birds and animals for private and commercial purposes, provided that no two game preserves shall join each other or be connected. Before any private game preserve or farm is established, the owner or operator shall secure a license from the commission, the fee for which is $50 per year.
(2) All private game preserves or farms established under the provisions of this section shall be fenced in such manner that domestic game thereon may not escape and wild game on surrounding lands may not enter and shall be subject at any time to inspection by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or its conservation officers. Such private preserve or farm shall be equipped and operated in such manner as to provide sufficient food and humane treatment for the game kept thereon. Game reared or produced on private game preserves and farms shall be considered domestic game and private property and may be sold or disposed of as such and shall be the subject of larceny. Live game may be purchased, sold, shipped, and transported for propagation and restocking purposes only at any time. Such game may be sold for food purposes only during the open season provided by law for such game. All game killed must be killed on the premises of such private game preserve or farm and must be killed by means other than shooting, except during the open season. All domestic game sold for food purposes must be marked or tagged in a manner prescribed by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; and the owner or operator of such private game preserve or farm shall report to the said commission, on blanks to be furnished by it, each sale or shipment of domestic game, such reports showing the quantity and kind of game shipped or sold and to whom sold. Such report shall be made not later than 5 days following such sale or shipment. Game reared or produced as aforesaid may be served as such by hotels, restaurants, or other public eating places during the open season provided by law on such particular species of game, under such regulations as the commission may prescribe.
(3) It is unlawful for any common carrier to knowingly transport or receive for transportation any domestic game unless the package or container containing such shipment has attached thereto a permit for such shipment and such package or container shall be marked on the outside showing quantity and kind of game enclosed.
(4) Any person violating this section for the first offense commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and for a second or subsequent offense commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Any person convicted of violating this section shall forfeit to the commission any license issued under this section; and no further license shall be issued to such person for a period of 1 year following such conviction.
History.—s. 70-A, ch. 13644, 1929; ss. 1-9, ch. 14515, 1929; CGL
1936 Supp. 1901(5)-(15), 1977(71); s. 307, ch. 71-136; s. 223, ch.
81-259; s. 129, ch. 99-245; s. 11, ch. 2002-46; s. 4, ch. 2003-151.

This shows you how small an area these animals may be caged in.   The FL rule says that animals cannot be shot unless during hunting season, but when exactly is our hunting season on zebras and giraffes?  The FWC says you cannot shoot a carnivore at one of these game farms, so why is it that so many of them have cougars, bobcats and lions (all non protected species) sitting in miserably small (but legal) cages?  There was recently a big expose on how captive raised foxes and bobcats were being used as targets in these kinds of game ranches.

Most of the hoofstock described below breed well in zoos and are surplused out (dumped) into the private sector every year.  People want to see babies at the zoo, so the zoos breed indescriminately, knowing that game farms are happy to take their surplus.  Why would game farms want these animals if there are no buyers for them alive and in fact the rule reads that they can only trade them alive for restocking purposes. 

This is an ugly, inhumane business and the zoos and the FWC do not want the public to know what is happening.  I was sitting in a FWC commissioner's meeting last year when the subject of giving authority to the counties to regulate the possession of these wild animals was being discussed.  I had suggested that Floridians needed to make it a ballot issue because under current FL law the FWC holds all the authority.  The public has made it clear that they don't want tigers in back yard cages but the counties have been unable to do anything about it.  Chairman Commissioner Barreto said that he knew the voters would pass such an amendment if they ever had the chance and that they (the commissioners) needed to do something to keep that from happening.  The FWC knows that the public does not approve of their practices. 

ENCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR GAME MAMMALS
1. Equids (e.g., zebras, asses) and large non-cusorial bovids (e.g., wild cattle, African buffalo, bison) For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 1,250 square feet, 6 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.
2. Cervids (deer family) and cursorial bovids (antelope)
a. Large (e.g., elk, sambar, red deer, sable antelope, eland, wildebeest, and deer and antelope of similar size). For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 1,250 square feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.
b. Medium (e.g., white-tailed, fallow, axis, sika, pronghorn, deer and antelope of similar size). For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 800 square feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.
c. Small (e.g., roe, dikdik, muntjac, brocket, pudu, Chinese water deer, musk deer, deer and antelope of similar size). For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 450 square feet, 5 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.
3. Camelids (e.g., vicuna and guanaco)
a. For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 800 square feet, 6 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.
b. Giraffes, okapi. For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 1,500 square feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.
4. Tapirs
a. For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 500 square feet, 6 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.
b. Each enclosure shall have a pool of water, 60 square feet, 3 feet deep, equipped with a ramp or steps. For each additional animal, increase pool surface area by 25 percent of original area.
5. Wild swine (Suidae) and peccaries. For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 200 square feet, 4 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.
6. Wild goats/sheep (Caprinae) (e.g., musk ox, goral, serow, takin). For one or two animals, a paddock enclosing 500 square feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase paddock by 25 percent of the original footage.



HUNTING PRESERVE REGULATIONS
68A-12.010. Regulations Governing the Operation of Private
Hunting Preserves.
(1) The executive director may issue a license as provided by Section 372.661, F.S., for the establishment and operation of a private hunting preserve to allow the release and taking of captive-raised native and non-native game animals, as specified herein. Application for such license shall be made on Form GFC 333 (incorporated herein by reference, effective April 15, 1992 and available at the Commission's Tallahassee and regional offices). No hunting preserve license shall be issued until the premises of such preserve has been inspected by a representative of the Commission and the requirements of this section have been met.
(2) A hunting preserve shall consist of not more than 10,000 acres, including water area, and be owned or leased by the applicant. For the hunting of game mammals, the land shall be located wholly within a legally fenced tract. The boundaries of all preserves shall be posted with signs bearing the words "Licensed Hunting Preserve" which shall be placed at intervals of not more than 500 feet and easily visible from any point of ingress or egress. No hunting preserve shall be located within one mile of any wildlife management area, refuge or park established by state or federal law or regulation unless:
(a) The operation of such hunting preserve does not conflict with the management objectives of the affected wildlife management area, refuge or park;
(b) The owner or manager of the affected refuge or park shall be notified of the application and shall be given the opportunity to submit comments or recommendations;
(c) The proposed hunting preserve poses no significant adverse impacts to wildlife or public safety on the affected wildlife management area, refuge or park.
(3) In the event the property is under lease to the applicant, said lease shall be for a term of not less than one year from date of application and such lease is subject to review and approval by the Commission as a condition to the granting of said license.
(4) All laws, rules, or regulations pertaining to hunting or pertaining to game shall apply on all hunting preserves except as follows:
(a) The taking of carnivorous animals is prohibited on hunting preserves. Only game birds and game mammals of the following families: Cervidae (such as deer and elk), Suidae (hog), Bovidae (such as buffalo and antelope) shall be taken on hunting preserves.
(b) Game mammals shall not be taken on hunting preserves while boxed or caged and shall be taken only in accordance with the following conditions and methods:
1. Cervidae (deer family) shall be free-roaming on not less than 200 acres, with a minimum of 100 acres covered with woody vegetation. The hunting of Cervidae with dogs is prohibited, provided that a leashed dog shall be allowed for trailing. The preserve shall be completely enclosed with an eight-foot deer-proof fence.
2. Bovidae (such as buffalo and antelope) shall be freeroaming on not less than 300 acres, with a minimum of 200 acres covered with grassy vegetation. The hunting of Bovidae with dogs is prohibited, provided that a leashed dog shall be allowed for trailing. The preserve shall be completely enclosed with an eight-foot deer-proof fence.
3. Suidae (hog) shall be free-roaming on not less than 100 acres, with a minimum of 50 acres covered with woody vegetation. For hunting hogs with dogs the area shall be a minimum of 300 acres, with 200 acres covered with woody vegetation.
(5) Game mammals may be kept in small enclosures only for veterinary, breeding, transportation or other management purposes and shall not be hunted on the same day of release or transport into the minimum acreage required for taking the species.
(6) The hunting of game mammals that were produced, raised, or held at a zoological attraction, or that are tame game mammals is prohibited. For the purpose of this section, "tame game mammal" shall be defined as one that does not exhibit the flight characteristics or normal for the species when found in the wild. When tame game mammals are maintained in hunting areas for breeding or other purposes, they shall be readily identifiable with a fluorescent collar or other marking device.
(7) Game mammals shall not be taken by non-owners or non-lessees within 50 yards of a supplemental feeding station.
(8) Commission rules prohibiting the taking of game birds over live decoys or bait shall not apply when properly identified captive-reared game birds are being taken.
(9) Motorized vehicles shall not be used to drive game mammals, nor shall game mammals be taken from moving motorized vehicles.
(10) There shall be no bag limit for captive-reared game taken on hunting preserves. Such game may be trapped on the premises of said preserve, provided that any wild game trapped in such operation shall be immediately released.
(11) Open season for taking native game birds shall be from October 1 to April 20. The open season for taking native game mammals shall coincide with the established open season for the species established in the zone wherein the hunting preserve is located. White tailed deer of either sex may be taken non-native game birds may be taken year-round on licensed hunting preserves.
(12) With respect to waterfowl, only captive-reared mallards and captive-reared, Florida-strain mottled ducks may be released for shooting and only in accordance with the provisions of this rule. Such birds may not be handled so as to attract wild waterfowl. No person shall be permitted to shoot game farm ducks on any hunting preserve situated on a marsh, lake, river or any other place where there are concentrations of wild waterfowl or if the operation of the preserve attracts concentrations of wild waterfowl. Mallards may be released for shooting on hunting preserves, including preserves denoted as either private or commercial on GFC Form 333, only until June 30, 2008, and only in accordance with the following:
(a) Produce documentary evidence of having commercially released mallards for shooting during the period January 1, 1998 through December 31, 2000;
(b) Have been continuously licensed per Section 372.661, F.S., since July 1, 2001; and
(c) No more than 9,000 mallards shall be released by a permittee during the open season.
(13) Florida-strain mottled ducks (mottled ducks) may be released for shooting purposes on hunting preserves only in accordance with the following. Preserves shall:
(a) Obtain mottled ducks only from validly permitted in-state breeding facilities or from out-of-state breeding facilities with which the Commission has an agreement for the taking, raising and reimportation of mottled ducks in compliance with subsections (13) and (14) of this rule;
(b) Maintain and provide upon request complete records including certificates of origin for mottled ducks, the number of mottled ducks released annually, and daily harvest records indicating how many of which species of ducks were killed and whether the ducks were wild or released;
(c) Release only mottled ducks meeting minimum standards for genetic purity as determined by the Commission.
Purity standards shall be based on phenotypic characteristics or, when available, genetic characteristics that provide the best available indicators of whether a bird is a pure, Florida-strain mottled duck; and
(d) Be subject to inspection by the Commission.
(14) In order to establish a source of captive-reared, Floridastrain mottled ducks for release on hunting preserves, the Executive Director shall:
(a) Permit the removal of mottled duck eggs and/or birds from the wild for breeding on a limited number of breeding facilities. The number of eggs and/or birds made available by permit for breeding facilities shall be no greater than one-half of the number that the Executive Director determines may be removed from the wild population without negative impacts to the population. This number shall be estimated conservatively, using the best available biological information, so as to safeguard the welfare of the wild mottled duck population in Florida;
(b) Determine the number of breeding facilities to which Florida-strain mottled ducks and/or eggs shall be made available based on the number of ducks and/or eggs an individual breeding facility would need to establish a sustainable captive population and on the number of eggs and/or ducks to be removed from the wild;
(c) Use the following criteria to determine which breeding facilities shall be eligible to receive ducks or eggs. The proposed facility shall:
1. Document a history of successfully breeding ducks;
2. Adhere to accepted husbandry standards to assure safe and optimum breeding of mottled ducks;
3. Possess all required state and federal licenses and permits; and
4. Not have been adjudicated guilty or pled nolo contendere to any wildlife or game law violation in the state of Florida or other jurisdiction.
(d) Select breeding facilities that shall be permitted to receive ducks and/or eggs based on a random drawing from a pool of breeding facilities that meet the criteria listed in paragraph (14)(c); and
(e) Enter into agreements with breeding facilities receiving eggs and/or ducks. Mottled ducks produced at facilities with such agreements shall be eligible for release in Florida subject to license and permitting requirements of these rules. Such agreements shall include the following specific requirements for the breeding facility:
1. Rights of inspection;
2. Separation of mottled ducks from other stock;
3. Marking of birds; and
4. Protocols for culling possible hybrids.
(15) Operators shall maintain documents to demonstrate that birds being released and hunted on the preserve are in healthy condition and were legally produced at a licensed game farm or preserve. All captive reared ducks and turkeys to be taken on preserves shall be banded to identify point of origin. No wild turkeys nor wild ducks shall be taken over baitedareas, nor during the closed season prescribed by the Commission for the region in which the preserve is located.
(16) Hunting preserves shall be equipped and operated in such manner as to provide sufficient food and humane treatment for the game kept thereupon. The premises, pens, and facilities of all hunting preserves shall be maintained in a sanitary condition. All game harvested shall be taken by humane method as specified by Commission rules for the species. Injured or wounded
mammals shall be immediately euthanized, transported to a veterinarian for treatment, or treated by the owner.
(17) Operators importing hoofed stock from out-of-state, or from foreign countries, shall maintain copies of all importation permits and health records as required by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the United States Department of Agriculture. Such records shall be made available for inspection upon request of any Commission employee.
(18) Prior to being transported from a preserve, all carcasses, parts, and meat of game taken on preserves shall be properly identified with a tag or label with the name of the licensee, the name of the preserve, and the date such game is being transported from the preserve. In the case of transporting a quantity of game birds, where individual marking is not practical, the container being used to transport such game shall be tagged or labeled as specified above.
(19) Except for those preserves licenses as provided in Section 372.661(2), F.S., a hunting license as provided by law shall be required of all persons taking game on any hunting preserve.
(20) There shall be a registration book on each hunting preserve in which the name, address, hunting license number (or nature of the exemption), and quantity of game taken by each person hunting on the preserve is recorded. All records and the physical facilities and installations of any hunting preserve shall be open to inspection upon request by personnel of the Commission.
(21) A complete annual report of all game mammals released and taken on said preserve up until June 30 of each year shall be furnished to the Commission by July 31 of each year.
(22) The minimum acreage provisions of subparagraphs
(4)(b)1.-3. and the yardage requirement in subsection (7), shall not apply to those operations licensed prior to July 1, 1996.
Specific Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art.
IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History-New 8-1-79, Amended 6-4-81, 6-21-82, 7-1-83, Formerly 39-12.10, Amended 8-5-86, 4-11-90, 4-15-92, 10-20-96, 6-23-99, Formerly 39-12.010, Amended 5-29-01, 11-3-02.

I would ask the same question about Hunting Preserves.  If you can't shoot a zoo animal or carnivore, why are there so many of them there?  This explains why there is so much trading going on between zoos, their employees and then these farms.  If it is illegal to shoot a zoo animal at a FL hunting preserve, then the zoo type animal has to come from a private pet owner.  No one is required to go back two steps in proving where an animal came from.

In 15 years of being licensed in FL to possess more than 100 lions, tigers and other big cats.  I have only been asked on two occassions by the FWC to prove where I got two cats.  All I had to produce was a ledger, that I created, according to the rules, that listed a name and address of the person I got the cats from.  (If that person is from out of state then I don't even have to prove that they were licensed to have the animal, nor to prove that the person even exists.) I am hated by and used to be frequently harrassed by the FWC and yet this was the extent of their investigation.  When I say harrassed, I mean that when I would be in a Commission meeting, or lobbying in Tallahassee or DC to end the trade of exotics, they would just happen to send investigators to my facility to scare my staff over nothing, as if to say that if I didn't quit speaking up in hearings, they could do me harm.  Lately that has ceased.  Maybe because it didn't work, or maybe because the FWC, like so many agencies, just can't afford to do their jobs any more, much less such nonsense as this.

The FWCC and the staff at the FWC is made up of hunters and they hunt in these hunting preserves.  They want more of them.  If you go to their meetings you will see that they are constantly trying to figure out how to get more land to kill on and more people who want to kill to join their club.  (Hunters make up less than 2% of FL's population so they are trying to attract 12 year olds now by teaching them young that killing for fun is OK) 

How deeply are they going to probe into where all of the fancy hoof stock comes from?  Killing animals is what they do for fun and there is no reason for them to try and prove that the providers of their fun are breaking the law.  If the hunting preserve says the animal came from private pet owner like Lex, then there is no direct paper trail to the zoo, even though there obviously is a connection.  I have been pushing for the FWC to make it publicly known where all of these licensed holders of captive wildlife are and that their acquisition and sale records be public record.  The FWC has fought that, as have the people who are using animals this way.  The only reason to hide it is because the public is not going to like it. 

As for the notion that a tame animal will be identifiable one that doesn't shy away from people is just ludicrous.  Most of the 134 big cats that we care for were born in captivity, bottle raised, kept as pets and then discarded.  If a stranger walks into their space, they will shy away 99% of the time.  They won't be as smart and as quick as a truly wild animal, but are at an extreme disadvantage to a hunter. 

While there is a requirement that a registration book be maintained at the hunting preserve, the only ones who are authorized to inspect it are the FWC.  It's the fox guarding the hen house.

The provision for animals to be kept in smaller areas is just one more way to cover themselves.  If someone tries to infiltrate their club to document the fact that these animals are being held in small areas, they will be able to say that they are doing so for "veterinary, breeding, transportation or other management purposes."  How convenient.  The undercover person is not going to be given the opportunity to kill endangered species, carnivores or an easy kill of a zebra in a corral until they have proven themselves to be heartless killers time and again.  Then they can gain access to the valuable trophies these hunting preserves offer.  This is why people who care about animals will never be able to show the public what happens behind closed gates. 

I hope that you will not give up on this investigation until you expose the entire business of publicly supported zoos using their funds and the state's secretive policies to provide captive wild animals into the hands of those who would do them harm. 

--
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

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

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