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Florida wants to stop these reptiles from becoming the next python. Breeders call it overreach

Adriana Brasileiro, The Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

By prohibiting trade in high-demand lizards like the tegu, wildlife managers will eliminate part of the solution, he said, as several reptile breeders also capture and export the invaders, effectively acting as removal agents while also educating people about responsible pet ownership.

In a call to action asking members to send comments to FWC, the association known as USARK said: "This is not about stopping potentially invasive species from establishing in Florida. It is about overreaching policy based upon tyrannical ideology trumping logic and common sense."

USARK also said the exotic pet industry employs thousands of people in Florida who will lose their jobs because of "a few bad apples who let animals escape in the past," according to Goss.

"What we are asking for is to get everyone around the table to talk about solutions that will truly help address the issue of invasive species," he said.

After first presenting the draft regulation in July, wildlife managers clarified some rules about the sale of iguanas and tegus out of state. FWC will allow trappers and others in the reptile business to catch the animals in the wild and sell them outside of Florida. Iguana trappers were originally concerned the new rules could somehow affect their businesses, but removal and eradication programs will likely continue to expand.

 

Tegus have been reported in Georgia, where they have established small populations in at least three counties. In South Carolina, less than eight sightings last year led the Department of Natural Resources to unanimously approve this month regulations that will end the possession, sale, import and breeding of the species.

Some exotic pet store owners fear the new regulation will vilify animals that make great pets. Amir Soleymani, owner of Miami Reptile Company, said tegus are smart lizards that can be trained with clickers just like dogs. They form affectionate bonds with owners and help improve people's mental health, he said.

"Pet lizards can have a calming and positive effect on people, and that's especially important during these stressful times," Soleymani said. "Most reptile breeders are responsible keepers, and most pet owners are conscientious owners. These rules are simply unfair."

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