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Allowed to Use State-Owned Land For Grazing????????

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Larrry

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Zoos Could Be Allowed to Use State-Owned Land For Grazing
By Craig Pittman
TAMPA BAY TIMES

Published: Monday, February 27, 2012 at 11:54 p.m.

Florida's state-owned lands already are coping with pythons, monkeys and walking catfish. So how about adding some rhinos, a few giraffes, maybe even some elephants?

A pair of bills being pushed through the Legislature by the Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums would allow the association's 16 members — including Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa — to lease state-owned land for "conducting enhanced research" on "selected populations of ungulate and avian species."

An ungulate is an animal with hooves, notes a House committee analysis of CS/HB 1117, listing as examples "zebras, donkeys, cattle/bison, rhinoceroses, camels, hippos, tapirs, goats, pigs, sheep, giraffes, okapis, moose, elk, deer, antelopes, and gazelles."

"We're not going to put primates out there and we're not going to put cats out there," said Larry Killmar, who is both president of the association and vice president of the Lowry Park Zoo. "We know those are hot-button species. But we could put antelopes, rhinos, giraffes out there — even elephants, if necessary."

The state Department of Environmental Protection and the five water management districts already lease land to ranchers to graze cattle. Killmar said that's the land the zoos are interested in using, not the pristine forests, beaches and swamps.

No other state in the nation has approved such a plan to help its zoos, Killmar said. "This will put Florida on the map as far as being progressive on conservation," he said.

But to former Southwest Florida Water Management District director E.W. "Sonny" Vergara, the thinking behind CS/HB 1117 and its Senate companion, SB 1456, can be summed up by two words: "truly boneheaded."
http://www.theledger.com/article/20120227/politics/120229334


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