One might think that the passage of a new protected species ordinance in the January 7th City Council Meeting would be great news for our wildlife. Regrettably, the new ordinance does not provide a sufficiently strong deterrent for the most egregious wildlife offenders. There will still be people that will destroy our wildlife and their habitat. Though the $5,000 maximum fine possibility is not insignificant, there will be some offenders that will remain intent on taking shortcuts when developing their property. They may view a $5,000 fine as an acceptable cost of doing business; which, frankly, is unacceptable from an ecological perspective.
An ordinance with the possibility of jail time for the most egregious offenders after their third offense is required to get everyone’s attention and to save our wildlife.
Other Florida cities have already enacted similar wildlife ordinances offering the possibility of jail time for repeat offenders. For example, Cape Coral’s ordinance (also passed on January 7th) gives a punishment of up to 60 days’ jail time in Lee County Jail for repeat violators. Each day that a violation continues unfixed is considered a “separate and distinct” offense under the Cape Coral ordinance, encouraging swift remediation of any offending behavior.
It was disappointing that Councilman Reed chose to oppose the possibility of jail time for repeat offenders. Councilman Reed has been a strong community servant that works hard to research and study the issues confronting our city. He is an articulate advocate, if not a bit long-winded. He unfortunately does not fully appreciate the environmental stresses facing our borrowing owls, gopher tortoises, and other threatened species that make Marco Island their home.