LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- As of February 11th, a new amendment to a General Prohibition Rule in the state of Florida bans the public from feeding wild monkeys.
Free-roaming, non-human primates join coyotes, foxes, raccoons, bears, pelicans and sandhill cranes as species included in this rule.
The rule was approved in December at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting.
According to FWC, there are three established species of wild monkeys in Florida: squirrel monkeys, vervet monkeys and rhesus macaques. When fed by humans, they often develop a dependency on humans as a source of food and become territorial over the area where feeding occurs.
This dependency can lead to increased aggression, which may result in injuries and spread of disease to humans.
Wildlife officials also say wild monkeys are documented carriers for various diseases. Rhesus macaques can carry herpes B, a potentially fatal disease in humans if not treated immediately.
“The health and safety of the public is the Commission’s number one priority. Feeding wild monkeys creates an elevated risk to human health because it brings them into closer contact with people,” said Dr. Thomas Eason, Assistant Executive Director of the FWC. “This amended rule provides our staff the tools we need to effectively address a situation that can have serious consequences.”
For more information on Florida's non-native wildlife, click HERE.