Forest High School teacher on paid leave following animal drowning

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Law enforcement officials are investigating a Forest High School teacher, Dewie Brewton, who allegedly drown two raccoons and an opossum in an agriculture class.

The incident was made public after a student showed his mother a video of the animals being drowned.

Brewton apparently drowned the animals because they had been killing the class’ chickens. Students said that Brewton referred to the animals as a nuisance.

The graphic video shows students filling up large trash cans with water then submerging the animals while they are in cages. In one clip, the raccoon was thrashing around and tried to come up for air, at which time students used steel poles to push the raccoon under. They also held a water hose over the raccoon’s face.

In an e-mail to Ocala Post, Marion County Public Schools Public Information Officer, Kevin Christian, wrote, “Our school district is investigating this incident at Forest High School. While law enforcement tells us the teacher may not have done anything illegal, his actions before students are certainly questionable.”

“The district placed this teacher on paid administrative leave Tuesday pending the outcome of our investigation, which is standard procedure anytime an employee is accused,” said Christian.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that they take these matters very seriously and will determine if any laws were broken.

When FWC has completed its investigation, the case will be turned over to the State Attorney’s Office. Ultimately, the SAO will determine if any charges should be filed against Brewton.

Students say they support the teacher in his decision to kill the animals.

We want to hear from you. What do you think about the teacher’s actions?

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FWC provided the following information pertaining to nuisance wildlife.

Nuisance wildlife is wildlife that

causes (or is about to cause) property damage,

presents a threat to public safety, or

causes an annoyance within, under or upon a building.

How can nuisance wildlife be taken?

Nuisance wildlife, as defined in Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) 68A-9.010, may be taken using live traps or snares, or, where allowed, firearms during daylight hours. All traps and snares must be inspected at least once every 24 hours. The discharge of a firearm may be prohibited in some cities and residential areas, check with local law enforcement.  A permit issued by the FWC regional offices is required to use steel traps to take destructive mammals (excluding species prohibited by the FWC). A Gun and Light at Night Permit and a hunting license are required to use a firearm and a light at night to take nuisance beaver, bobcat, fox, opossum, rabbit, raccoon or skunk, causing the destruction of crops and/or livestock. A Gun and Light at Night Permit is not required to take wild hog, coyote, armadillo, black or Norway rat and house mouse, with a gun and light at night.

What do I do with a nuisance animal after it is caught?

Live-captured nuisance wildlife must be released legally or euthanized humanely within 24 hours of capture or trap inspection. Any non-target wildlife should be released immediately at the capture site. Unless prohibited by rabies alert or quarantine issued by County Health Department or County Animal Control, live-captured nuisance wildlife may be transported only for the purpose of euthanasia or for legal release, Euthanasia guidelines can be found on the Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia. Only native species of wildlife may be released.

Native nuisance wildlife may be released on the property of the landowner where captured provided the release site and capture site are located on one contiguous piece of property. Native nuisance wildlife may be released off the capture site if the release site is a minimum of 40 contiguous acres, located in the same county as the capture site, and the person releasing the nuisance wildlife has in their possession written permission from the landowner of the release site allowing release on their property. Nuisance wildlife may not be released on federal, state, county, local or private lands without written permission of the landowner.

Where and how is a carcass disposed of?

To dispose of carcasses, please keep these precautions in mind and follow these instructions. When handling dead birds or other wildlife, work outdoors and try to stay upwind of the carcass. When bagging the carcass, keep the open end of the bag away from your face. Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling carcasses. Do not store carcasses in a cooler, freezer, or refrigerator used for human or animal food, and wash hands thoroughly after handling. Wash any clothing that comes into contact with the carcass with normal household detergent at normal temperatures.

Disposal of dead animals: open up two heavy plastic trash bags. Avoid touching the carcass with your bare hands. Pick up the carcass using disposable gloves or plastic bags worn on your hands. Place the carcass in the first heavy plastic trash bag. Keep the open end of the bag pointed away from your face while tying securely. Next, remove gloves or plastic bags from your hands by turning them inside out. Dispose of the gloves or plastic bags in the second heavy trash bag and place the first bag (containing the carcass) in the second bag, as well. Tie the second bag securely and place it in the garbage. If there are many carcasses to be disposed of, please first speak with your local waste management facility.

Permit requirements

Venomous Reptiles

Anyone transporting or possessing live venomous reptiles is required to have a captive wildlife permit.

Conditional Reptiles

Anyone transporting or possessing live conditional reptiles is required to have a python removal permit.

Birds

A permit from FWC is required for taking of any state listed species or any bird species protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). External Website

Gun/Light at Night Permit

This permit authorizes a landowner or their designee to take depredating wildlife (beaver, bobcat, fox, possum, rabbit, raccoon, otter, skunk or nutria) at night with a gun and light. The permit is not required to take wild hog, coyote, armadillo, black or Norway rat, and house mouse, with a gun and light during non-daylight hours. Under special restrictions, authorizes harassment (scaring) deer causing damage to crops with a gun and light at night.

Depredating Deer Permit

This permit authorizes the killing of deer that are causing damage to crops where less lethal means of control are either ineffective or not feasible. First-time applicants requesting a Deer Depredation Permit or if you have any questions concerning this permit, contact your local FWC regional office.

Depredating Bear Permit

Bear Depredation Permits authorize the lethal take of black bears that are causing property damage where less-lethal means to control the damage are either ineffective or not feasible and FWC is unable to capture and remove the bear.

Steel Trap Permit

This permit authorizes the holder to use padded jaw steel traps for the purpose of taking destructive coyotes, fox, bobcats, beaver, and otter.

Protected Wildlife and Bird Permits

Protected fish and wildlife include those species listed as endangered, threatened or species of special concern.  Also included are migratory birds External Website and other species protected by FWC rules.  FWC rules prohibit activities that may have a negative effect on protected fish and wildlife without a permit.

Mallard Control Permit

This permit authorizes a person in possession of a copy of the Federal permit to lethally control and trap feral mallards from May 1 through August 31 annually and to destroy nests and eggs of feral mallards year-round. This is not a hunting license.

Canada Goose Depredation Permit

This permit authorizes landowners (and their employees and agents) to take birds and nests to reduce depredation to commercial agricultural operations. It is the permit holder’s responsibility to understand and adhere to all provisions set forth in the permit.

Wild Hog Trappers

Hunting and trapping wild hogs is a useful tool to control feral populations on private and state lands.  Nuisance wildlife trappers that want to shoot or trap feral swine on private lands do not need FWC authorization. Permission of the landowner is all that is required. A permit is not required to take a wild hog with a gun and light during non-daylight hours.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS) regulates intrastate movement of live feral hogs External Website and requires individuals trapping feral swine in Florida to register with DOACS as a Feral Swine Dealer (FSD).

Nuisance Wildlife Trappers – Businesses

The FWC does not license nuisance wildlife trappers. Nuisance wildlife trappers may voluntarily register to have their name and contact information added to the Wildlife Trapper List. Persons contacting FWC looking for help with nuisance wildlife removal are directed to the wildlife trapper list.

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