Sarasota News Leader

03/08/2013

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AMNESTY DAY The Burmese python is a great threat to native Florida species, according to wildlife experts. Photo by Tatiana Staats FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION OFFERS NO-PENALTY WAYS FOR PET OWNERS TO GIVE UP CREATURES OF 'CONDITIONAL SPECIES' By David Staats Contributing Writer Saturday, March 2, was Amnesty Day. No, it was not the day when amnesty was granted to true penitents who really, really had intended to pay those nearly forgotten, overdue U.S. income taxes but who never quite got around to writing those checks. This was the Nonnative (Exotic) Pet Amnesty Day, which was held in Fort Myers. It was an opportunity for owners of eight "conditional species" (known as "reptiles of concern" until 2010), such as Burmese pythons, to surrender them to the care of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, no questions asked. FWC staff members would then place surrendered pets in good health in trusted foster homes. In addition to the Burmese python, the "conditional species" category includes the Northern African Rock python, Southern African Rock python, amethystine python, reticulated python, scrub python, green anaconda and Nile Monitor lizard. After July 1, 2010, under Flor-

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