About an hour ago the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) reported that almost all snakes will be banned within the city of Dunedin, Florida. They did not include a copy of the proposed ordinance. However, if they are correct, the move would contravene Florida’s State Constitution.
“Dunedin, Florida will likely pass a ban on nearly all snakes unless they hear resistance. Tomorrow (12/4/14) at 6:30 PM the revised ordinance will be heard and could pass including a ban on nearly all snakes.” ~ USARK
USARK sent out an action alert with a form letter to their membership encouraging opposition to the proposed ordinance. In the alert they urge Florida residents and parties outside the state to contact the city commission citing reasons to oppose the proposal. What USARK overlooks is that only Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has the authority under the Florida State Constitution to regulate “wildlife.”
“If an ordinance is to be considered, input from citizens and alternatives to over-reaching bans should be at the forefront of discussions.” ~ excerpt USARK form letter
The appeal to city commissioners by USARK attempts to make several arguments, except the most salient one: the Dunedin City Commission cannot pass and enforce an ordinance that is in violation of the Florida Constitution.
It is likely that the City of Dunedin, like USARK, is unaware that this proposed ordinance violates State Constitution. We commend USARK for the effort. However we suggest they refocus their argument on the issue of preemption.
If you plan to contact the Dunedin City Commission consider focusing on educating them to the fact that the authority to regulate wildlife is under the sole purview of FWC.