Florida … known for it’s beautiful landscapes and wildlife. But our natural Florida is threatened … by nonnative species. To bring attention to this threat the FWC partners with local organizations to host Nonnative Pet Amnesty Days. Where Floridians are invited to donate their unwanted nonnative pets free of charge with no questions asked. And no questions means exactly that. Unwanted, nonnative pets are excepted without penalty so owners who do not have proper permits or licenses for their animals can surrender them without fear of receiving a citation. “Southeast United States in general is experiencing a problem with nonnative exotics being introduced into the environment. The problem is that people don’t know what to do. They get theses animals as pets thinking they’re going to make good companion pets. They don’t realize they outgrow their welcome. They soon exhibit the fact that you can take an animal out of the wild but you can’t take the wild out of the animal. In well intentioned acts quite often they release them into the environment not realizing that it is against the law, that it is something that is so counterproductive for our environment. So what this event tries to do is give people an outlet to provide … to turn over their animals and provide a good home for them where they will be protected and properly cared for and not endanger our environment.” “What we’re going to do is … I’m doing just a brief health exam on him.” All donated pets are examined by a licensed vetrenarian and every effort is made to place healthy animals with qualified caregivers. “My mom was listening to the radio and she heard something about exotic pets so I looked it up on the internet, and I read up on it and I decided that it sounded like a good thing adopting out pets instead of just giving them to random owners … people that know what they’re doing.” Pet Amnesty Days include educational exhibits and live animal displays. Experts are on hand to answer questions about exotic pets and help teach people how to properly care for these animals. At most events, micro-chipping is available for a nominal fee. Owners can bring their nonnative pets to amnesty day and have them permanently identified. Micro-chipping is required by law for reptiles of concern that are two inches or greater in diameter. This is part of changing rules on how Florida handles nonnatives. “Nonnative pet owners generally will release their pets thinking it’s the humane thing to do. In fact most of the pets they release don’t survive … so it’s just the opposite. Also it’s ecologically unwise and it’s against the law.” The entire event is designed to create awareness for Florida’s nonnative species problems and the importance of responsible pet ownership. And working together with communities, partners and volunteers the FWC will continue it’s efforts to prevent nonnative species from being released into the wild and continue mobilizing people to do all we can to protect our Florida … … naturally.