Invasive species are causing a serious threat to Florida’s ecosystems. These exotic species, including fish, reptiles, fish, trees, etc., are drastically affecting indigenous flora and fauna. In most cases, invasive species have no natural predators, meaning that they can outcompete native species and multiply unchecked. As a result, our native species suffer greatly. Invasive species also have major economic impacts.
This problem desperately requires correction. The best way to control this issue seems to be by putting a stop to the release of non-native plants and animals into the wild and aggressively managing species that are encroaching on natural areas. For this reason, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law in June of 2020 adding two reptiles to the list of species banned from sale, import, breeding and ownership in Florida — the green iguana and the tegu. The iguana and the tegu joined five species of the python snake on a list of invasive reptiles that state wildlife officials are attempting to prevent from harming local wildlife.
The United States Association of Reptile Keepers’ Florida Chapter and various plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court in July challenging the constitutionality of a law that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in June as well an executive order simultaneously issued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton.
Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper ultimately rules that Florida lawmakers violated the state Constitution when they passed the law banning possession, breeding and sale of certain types of non-native reptiles, including the iguana and the tegu. The Court found that the Florida Constitution gives the power to approve such regulations to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Despite this decision, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is continuing its crucial efforts to limit possession, breeding and sale of these invasive species. This is a critical step in protecting Florida’s singularly unique ecosystems.