It is Illegal to Possess a Florida Panther* (*Unless you have a permit)
A large cat, apparently a Florida panther, was located in a residential neighborhood in Parkland, Florida and successfully captured by wildlife officials. Residents noticed the cat and contacted authorities, who were able to safely tranquilize and capture the cat. The cat was wearing a collar, which suggests that it may have been an escaped pet. Authorities initially believed the cat was a endangered Florida panther, but there are none permitted in the area. Further consideration suggests it may not have been a Florida panther, a rare subspecies of cougar native to Florida, and under greater protection as an endangered species. The fact that the animal had a collar, and due to the rarity of Florida panthers, particularly in Broward County, (and since none are permitted near there,) it is more likely a common puma, aka cougar.
Cougars/Pumas/Florida Panthers/Catamounts or whatever name you wish to call them… they are still wildlife that requires a permit to be kept in Florida (I believe they qualify as Class I animals, which could present a danger to the public.) Regardless, it is also a violation to fail to keep a permitted animal safely caged or restrained.
via Brandon Beyer
*Update: Apparently, to obtain a permit for Class I animals such as cougars, one must have at least a year of practical experience in the husbandry of that species, or at the genus level (Puma) of cougars and panthers.
Poor Rocky Cale was arrested this week for pulling aquatic weeds. Rollin ‘Rocky’ Cale, 75, and some other members of the Model Yacht Club removed some aquatic weeds two months ago so they could launch their john boat to maintain some buoys. Apparently, this was the protocol that had been in place for years for maintaining that section of the lake. There is a Florida statute that requires a permit to remove aquatic weeds, Sec. 379.501, and makes it a misdemeanor if the person does it due to “reckless indifference or gross careless disregard,” though that does not seem to be the case for Mr. Cale, as he and his group had apparently believed that they were authorized for the removal. It looks like a bad arrest.
The backstory is that Cale, as head of the Marco Island Community Sailing Center, had earlier disputes with parks manager Samantha Malloy and the city, who had ultimately locked out the Sailing Club during that dispute. So the legal action being taken now smacks of retribution for the earlier dispute, and the city is investigating how it went down. It may have started as a littering complaint for the weeds that had been pulled and were sitting there, as Malloy first contacted code enforcement, who apparently referred her to FWC, and there was a littering charge the State Attorney decided not to pursue. It is all a lot of overzealous enforcement brought on by a pile of weeds… weeds that Cale helped dispose of after he was contacted. This should have been resolved with a phone call, not by involving law enforcement.
The sad thing is, this poor 75-year-old man, who has volunteered countless hours to his community through the sailing club and the model yacht group, etc, had to go to jail over this. It was an inadvertent infraction by a whole group of people, and there certainly doesn’t seem to be the ‘reckless indifference’ necessary to sustain the charge. Mr. Cale was completely cooperative, and had no idea there was a prohibition on the plant removal. And instead of just giving him a summons with a court date, they issued a capias warrant and had him arrested and booked into jail. On top of that, the Marco Eagle reports that the weeds were scheduled to be sprayed and destroyed. He basically did them a favor, but no good deed goes unpunished. Every government official involved in this arrest should be ashamed of themselves. Sad.
Von Miller, via Instagram
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller caught a hammerhead shark while fishing in Florida, and posted pictures on social media. Miller is well known, not only for being Super Bowl MVP, but he has also done a lot of commercials and even appeared on Dancing with the Stars. Now he’s in hot water as there may be an investigation since hammerheads are a protected species. The video, embedded in the TMZ article, shows that the shark was released alive, but it also shows the shark was bleeding on the boat, and distressed when returned to the water.
I don’t think Miller is in the wrong here, as he has video showing the shark’s release. FWC will still conduct an investigation, but it won’t need to be too intensive. It appears he is on a fishing charter. It’s incumbent on the captain to ensure that the animals are treated humanely by everyone on board, and returned safely. Miller could be facing misdemeanor criminal charges. I don’t see any charges for Viller, and hopefully, the shark was ok.
Alligator Warning Sign
Apparently it bears repeating, as a man was arrested this week in Palm Beach County for illegally killing an alligator. Yes, they are everywhere, but Florida has a complex wildlife management system, and you have to have a permit and tag before you can hunt for gators. If not, you can be convicted of a crime! Florida takes its wildlife regulations very seriously…
Gov. Rick Scott
Governor Rick Scott announced this week that he is seeking a budget allocation to increase the pay of correctional officers and probation officers. These officers are surprisingly underpaid, starting at under $30,000, which has made it difficult to fill positions and retain officers. The State doesn’t even provide a firearm to probation officers that have to go out in the field to visit felons.
A few weeks ago he also announced that he is seeking a raise for state law enforcement officers, including FHP troopers, as well as FDLE, FWC and other agencies. The requested raise is modest, but probably overdue. I was speaking to some officers in court recently, and was surprised to see troopers leaving FHP to work in local departments, but the financial incentive was just too great. Fair pay is essential for maintaining the quality of our law enforcement officers.
The pay raises will still have to be discussed during the upcoming budget negotiations, and are far from a done deal. Not only is there concern of a deficit, Governor Scott is hoping to cut the budget by over $600 million. Some tough decisions will have to be made, but the law enforcement and corrections raises need to come sooner than later.
photo courtesy FWC
Working to be your leading Alligator-law related blog, we bring you this story from the FWC. FWC officers stopped a man driving a truck through a wildlife management area to check for his day-use pass, only to find dismembered alligator parts stashed around his vehicle. Upon questioning, the man admitted he had recently killed the alligator without permission.
Alligators can now be legally hunted in Florida, like deer and other animals, but alligator hunts are closely regulated. Know your laws before you hunt… or fish: Florida takes wildlife management seriously.
And be sure of what you’re doing. Don’t be like Bryan Rohm. He was out hunting an alligator with his son (legally!) and thought he had killed it. He was sorely mistaken, and when he brought it in the boat, the alligator bit his thumb and jumped back into the water. He had shot the gator twice with the bang-stick, an alligator hunting device (basically it delivers a shotgun blast at point blank range), and wasn’t able to stop the thing. Alligators are badasses.
Baby Gator in Cape Coral
A couple of unnamed Cape residents saw a baby Alligator wandering in an intersection on Halloween night, and decided to rescue the little guy. It’s clearly a baby, as it is only a foot long, and still has its baby spots, which fade after a few years. The Samaritans scooped up the little guy, only to be stopped by CCPD before they could find a safe place to release it. It’s a crime to possess an Alligator in Florida! Fortunately, Officer Pinkham was sympathetic, and called in FWC to safely relocate the little guy, without charging the Samaritans. Yay, rescued gator!
If you see a Gator in distress, or being a threat or nuisance, it is incumbent to call FWC, at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
Alligator Warning Sign