Protecting Florida’s Native Wildlife and Public Lands from Exotic Species
Governor Scott vetoes harmful “Jurassic Park” legislation
In April 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott delivered a win for Florida wildlife when he vetoed HB 1117, known as the “Jurassic Park bill,” a piece of legislation that would have allowed state zoos and aquariums to lease state-owned land to conduct breeding and research on animals including giraffes, zebras and rhinos.
“Gov. Scott’s veto signals a commitment to protecting the natural Florida we all know and love,” said Laurie Macdonald, Florida director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Now our public land managers can concentrate on fulfilling their mission of protecting and restoring native wildlife and habitat—without fear of an angry rhino stomping on those plans.”
In addition to the lobbying efforts by Defenders of Wildlife’s Florida team, thousands of Defenders supporters took action and wrote to Gov. Scott asking him to veto this misguided bill.
Exotic Animals Threaten Florida Ecosystems
Evidence shows that exotic animals and plants can cause serious costly damage to our public lands, and present an array of serious problems including the escape of animals, the spread of nonnative seed from feed, and potential spread of disease. Florida ecosystems and native wildlife are already at risk from exotic species run wild, such as the Burmese python. And escaped animals may even pose a threat to people and property.
Allowing exotic species to be housed on public lands would also disturb long-term plans to link the natural travel corridors for native umbrella species such as bears and panthers – or even lure native species into problem behaviors.
What It Means for Wildlife
Gov. Scott’s assertion that the bill lacks sufficient safeguards to ensure the protection of state lands, native species and habitats represents a victory for natural Florida, but it doesn’t guarantee that exotic animals won’t make their way onto the state’s public lands. Technically the state already has the authority to lease lands out for this purpose. Defenders is committed to keeping this dangerous practice off of state lands, and will watch closely for efforts to pursue the practice.