MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says there was “significant miscommunication” leading to the euthanization of a wild coyote rescued from the water off PortMiami on Feb. 4.
An online petition was launched about a week after the incident demanding an explanation from FWC, especially since wildlife rehabilitator Lloyd Brown of the Wildlife Rescue of Dade County was ready to take the animal in, care for it, and return it to the wild like other native animals.
On March 6, FWC released its 11-page Inspector General’s Report.
In a statement regarding the report, FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton wrote, “The findings clearly show that although no laws were broken, there was significant miscommunication that led to the decision. The entire situation was one we had not experienced before, and our Inspector General’s report has provided recommendations to improve communication, clarify and update policies, and institute appropriate training. Once implemented, these recommendations will allow us to be better informed and equipped for similar, future situations.”
“The administrative review resulted in 8 findings and 13 recommendations for improvement, that, if followed should reduce the likelihood of this incident reoccurring,” states the report.
Those findings are:
- FWC lacks a comprehensive definition for the coyote.
- HSC (Habitat and Species Conservation) external messaging is not consistent with the training and equipment provided.
- DLE (Division of Law Enforcement) lacks wildlife euthanasia and human-wildlife conflict policies.
- DLE personnel are not adequately trained in implementing the Wildlife Incident Response Plan.
- The FWC RCC (Regional Communications Center) Non-Emergency and Non-Law Enforcement Incident (NELE) Guidebook is outdated.
- FWC internal communication is inconsistent.
- The Wildlife Incident Response plan provides inadequate after-hours direction and inadequate resources
- Confusion caused a failure in FWC’s response to the media
Here is one part of the report’s timeline, which outlines that confusion.
11:00 a.m. FWC Lt. Col. Brian Smith meets with FWC Division of Habitat and Species Conservation (HSC) Assistant Section Leader Greg Kaufmann at FWC headquarters in Tallahassee. Smith tells Kauffman he does not believe the coyote should go to Lloyd Brown if it does not need to be rehabilitated. Kaufmann provides Smith with other options including relocation and euthanasia. They also discuss the limited number of suitable relocation sites with Miami-Dade County.
Kaufmann tells Smith that HSC does not have any means of euthanizing coyotes beyond what is readily available to law enforcement personnel (referring to firearms). Both agree that neither relocation nor euthanasia is ideal. Smith leaves the meeting believing he and Kaufmann agree euthanasia is ideal. Kaufmann leaves the meeting believing he and Smith agreed relocation would be the best option.
11:34 a.m. Kaufmann attempts to call Smith but is not able to make contact and leaves a voicemail.
Smith calls Major Alfredo Escanio and they continue to discuss options for the coyote. The discussion includes concerns about relocating an urbanized coyote to a rural environment such as the Everglades. Both agree euthanasia is the best option. Escanio instructs Capt. Alfredo Maza to contact FWC Officer Keith Hernandez and explains the decision had been made to euthanize the coyote.
11: 49 a.m. Kaufmann sends email to HSC staff, which explains what he and Smith discussed. It also explains Smith did not think it was appropriate for the coyote to go to a wildlife rehabilitator unless it was injured and needed to be rehabilitated.
11: 56 a.m. Kaufmann forwards that email to FWC South Region Wildlife Assistance Biologist Bryce Pierce a copy of the email and then calls Pierce instructing him to get a status update on the animal.
Pierce contacts Escanio and is told the coyote was already euthanized.
12:09 p.m. Pierce sends Kaufmann an email explaining Escanio confirmed the coyote was euthanized due to lack of available relocation sites.
The exact time the coyote was euthanized is not known. Based on the timeline, the coyote was euthanized by firearms between approximately 11:34 a.m. and 11:56 am.