The FWC identified some issues regarding the effectiveness of wildlife feeding rules. The severity of the previous penalty system resulted in a challenging situation for enforcement of wildlife feeding rules.
The 2015 Legislature approved amendments to Section 379.412 Florida Statutes to create a tiered penalty structure for violations of all of the FWC’s wildlife feeding rules except Marine Fish.
Previously, any violation of FWC rules prohibiting the feeding of wildlife would result in a 2nd degree misdemeanor, punishable of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine, at the discretion of the judge.
The new penalty system progresses from a civil penalty to a criminal penalty as multiple offenses occur. With this new penalty structure, fewer criminal violations will likely occur, reserving the more severe penalty for those violators who continually choose to disobey the rules despite receiving education, warnings, and a civil penalty.
The new penalty system starts with a civil penalty of $100, and then gradually increases in severity.
In accordance with Florida Administrative Code 68A-4.001 General Prohibitions, the FWC has several rules that prohibit feeding wildlife, including pelicans and sandhill cranes:
(5) The intentional feeding or the placement of food that attracts pelicans and modifies the natural behavior of the pelican so as to be detrimental to the survival or health of a local population is prohibited.
(6) The intentional feeding of sandhill cranes is prohibited.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is the state agency responsible for managing Florida's fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. This often involves enacting and enforcing rules and regulations governing human activity in many areas such as hunting and fishing, operating boats, possessing captive wildlife and dealing with nuisance animals.
Also In accordance with Florida Administrative Code 68A-4.001 General Prohibitions:
(1) No wildlife or freshwater fish or their nests, eggs, young, homes or dens shall be taken, transported, stored, served, bought, sold, or possessed in any manner or quantity at any time except as specifically permitted by these rules nor shall anyone take, poison, store, buy, sell, possess or wantonly or willfully waste the same except as specifically permitted by these rules.
(2) The use of gasoline or any other chemical or gaseous substances to drive wildlife from their retreats is prohibited.
(8) No person shall take or assist in taking wildlife using a method that involves remote control aiming and discharging of a gun when that person is not physically present at the location of that gun.