Effective 1 July 2004
68A-4.0052 , Possession and Release of Live Mallards-
This rule establishes caging requirements for live mallards and allows possession of such only by permitted individuals.
Need for this rule
The purpose of this rule is to reduce hybridization, or cross-breeding, between captive-reared (domestic) mallards and Florida's wild, native mottled ducks.
Historically, mallards only occurred in Florida as wild, migratory birds during the fall and winter months. These birds migrate out of Florida to northern breed areas in the spring and so are not present in Florida during the breeding season. However, captive-reared mallards are being illegally released by humans in large numbers in Florida, and these feral birds remain in Florida year-round.
These year-round resident mallards are not part of Florida's native wildlife, and, like most other exotic species, are causing problems. These released mallards pair with mottled ducks and the two species interbreed, resulting in hybrid offspring. State biologists frequently observe mixed flocks, mixed pairs, and the resulting hybrid offspring. The hybrid offspring are fertile, which further compounds the problem. Every mallard released in Florida can potentially contribute to the hybridization problem. Because of the relatively small size of the Florida mottled duck population, complete hybridization of the population is a serious concern. In fact, biologists list hybridization with feral mallards as the biggest immediate threat to the conservation of Florida's mottled duck.
The purpose of this rule is to (1) specifically prohibit the possession of mallards other than by those persons appropriately permitted and (2) to require caging in order to reduce accidental release and interaction of captive mallards with wild waterfowl. Also, the rule explicitly prohibits the release of mallards other than by licensed hunting preserves, and for dog and raptor training and field trials.
These restrictions, combined with education and public-relations efforts and enforcement, should greatly reduce the number of captive-reared mallards released in Florida and their threat to Florida's mottled duck population.
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