The mission of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is, “to manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.” Animal advocates have long criticized the FWC for emphasizing the “benefit to people” half of that statement, and it looks like things may not change anytime soon. This week, Governor Crist made three appointments to the seven-member commission. The new appointees, like the four sitting commissioners, all are involved in the land development industry. The appointments generated a lot of head-scratching, including an editorial in yesterday’s St. Petersburg Times that concluded, “Sounds more like a commission to promote development than to protect wildlife and its habitat.”
We are particularly discouraged at the appointment of South Florida developer Ron Bergeron to the commission. In May 2006, Mr. Bergeron boasted about an incident involving an alligator that occurred on his property in Hendry County. In a misguided attempt to impress friends, Mr. Bergeron jumped onto an alligator and, in his words, began to “wrestle.” Mr. Bergeron told local media that he punched the alligator after being bit. ARFF asked the FWC to press charges against Mr. Bergeron (molesting or harassing wildlife is a crime in Florida), but they declined.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will have another vacancy in January. Please contact Governor Crist and urge him to appoint an individual with a background that demonstrates a commitment to the protection of animals and habitat.
Governor Charlie Crist
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The new FWC commissioners must be confirmed by the Florida Senate. Please contact your state Senator and ask him or her to take a close look at Crist’s recent appointments.
Click here to find your state Senator.