Florida Wildlife Federation weighs in on shark-dragging – Sarasota Herald-Tribune
The group is concerned about the “very meager penalties for those who violate fish and wildlife laws and rules”
The Florida Wildlife Federation — the state equivalent of the nonprofit National Wildlife Federation, with its six million members — is joining the debate over the men shown in a video dragging a shark behind their boat at high speed.
Not only is the federation concerned about the incident, but it, like some legislators and other wildlife advocates, is concerned about the “very meager penalties for those who violate fish and wildlife laws and rules in Florida,” the nonprofit said in a statement this week.
“The vast majority of poachers, those who steal and abuse our public resources, are cited with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, and usually fined a small amount of money,” the federation said. “As the chance of actually being caught by an FWC officer is also minimal, unless one is thoughtless enough to put the crime on the internet, and as the penalty if convicted is oft-times inadequate, there seems to be little deterrence to wrongdoers.”
The Florida Wildlife Federation says it has lobbed legislators for years to increase penalties and make them mandatory.
“Mandatory penalties will keep judges from handing out small fines that are simply the cost of doing business for the outlaws,” the group said. “Moreover, Florida’s fish and wildlife penalties are presently very weak in comparison to other states. Law abiding sportsmen and women want the law violators out of the woods and off the waters. This is how to do it.”
The group is urging its members and others to contact Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, to urge them to support harsher penalties.
The group joins others