Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Request to tighten restrictions on captive wildlife

The Palm Beach Post published a letter today from Jen Hobgood, the Florida director of the Humane Society of the United States, that is well worth checking out. After the recent escape of a lion and tiger, HSUS is requesting that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission strengthen the rules associated with captive wildlife. From the letter:
As many as 15,000 primates and about as many big cats are kept in private hands in the United States. Accredited zoos and responsible sanctuaries house only a small share. The rest often live in deplorable conditions in roadside exhibits, pseudo-sanctuaries and back yards.
. . .
The FWC also is proposing requirements for wildlife sanctuaries, closing a regulatory loophole. The commission already issues permits for commercial operations that keep dangerous wild animals, but does not have a permit system for true sanctuaries, which do not exhibit, breed, buy or sell animals.

The proposed rules include an important provision to prohibit public contact with wildlife at sanctuaries. The ban should be extended to exhibitors as well. Contact such as photo opportunities with tiger cubs creates a market for cubs, which have no place to go when they grow too large and aggressive to handle.

Read the rest of the letter here and, for more information on the issue and an opportunity to comment, check out HSUS's website here.

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