Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Statement of Eugene Flinn regarding management of wildlife in Coral Reef Park: The truth about the CRP wildlife removal

No Muscovy ducks or Egyptian geese were harmed during any of my three terms as Mayor of Palmetto Bay. This is readily apparent from the receipts for animal removal, which I received from the Village, and which I am attaching. The Village and its council members are well aware that they did not occur during my tenure as mayor, assuming they can read a calendar. 

 For reference, I served on the Palmetto Bay Council from its creation in 2002 until shortly prior to Election Day, 2010. I then took office again in December, 2014 and served until December 4, 2018. I was not in office from November 8, 2010 to December, 2014 or after December 4, 2018. This is when the geese removals took place. 

Removal Receipts During the Stanczyk Administration 

The current Palmetto Manager presented some police and injury reports at the April 17 Council meeting, alleging that the Egyptian Geese (not Muscovy Ducks) were responsible for aggressive behavior. Apparently there were also attorneys who wrote at least one demand letter (I do not know if any suit was filed or it was settled pre-suit, if at all). The receipts for removals that were discussed Monday, April 17, which appeared to cover the following dates: 11-17-2010, 1-03-2011, 4-11-2011, 11-1-2013, 12-5-2013, 1-3-2014 and 4-15-2014 (for service dates of 1-24-14 & 4-16-2014). 

I have undertaken additional research; trying to find the receipts for these alleged trappers. I have itemized the receipts below. The earliest was 11-17-2010 - that removal occurred after my last meeting as Mayor of Palmetto Bay (Second Term). Shelley Stanczyk was sworn in as mayor at the following meeting. She also sat on the council next to me from 2006 – 2010 and served as mayor from 2010 to December 2014. The next receipt was dated April 11, 2011, followed by 11/1/13, 12/5/13, 1/3/2014 and 4/15/2014. 

None of these removals were for Muscovy Ducks. All were for the Egyptian Geese. All but one were during times when I was not in office. I will explain further about removals during my time in office. 

The Only Removals During the Flinn Administration Were Humane Removals/Relocations 

As stated previously, I was not in office from November 2010 through December 2014. 

Back to my first two terms, I was involved in one wildlife re-location with Todd Hardwick; but that was removing Wally the gator from the Perrine Wayside Park (Current Dog Park). I was assured that the gator was to be relocated (and he did qualify for relocation due to his or her size). That capture was featured on Animal Planet, the episode airing in January 2005. It was interesting that I was not made aware of the capture in advance. I was advised by a Miami Herald reporter (pictured above left) who advised me just before it happened. As you can see, I was dressed for court, not gator capture. But I did end up with a story for the hearing which was delayed so I could ensure that the gator was not harmed! 

 I did find a reference of an opossum removal at Coral Reef Park dated 12-11-2009. I was mayor at that time. I do not ever recall being advised of any opossum removal. I would love to hear what it did wrong. Possums are good guys. Perhaps the removal was more to remove a sick or an injured possum or to get it out of a vent or closet rather than a vicious possum running amuck in the park. Regardless, it was not part of an ongoing mission to eradicate opossums. 

I returned to office (Term 3) in December of 2014. Geese were removed at CRP park, but it ended in 2015. Again, I am looking for the reports/documentation relating to parks. Please note the difference in removal that occurred during my Third Term as noted in email of 4-14-2015 from Todd Hardwick of Pesky Critters to CRP Manager Luis Tejeda: 
Pesky Critters can remove geese at Coral Reef Park at a cost of $175 per animal removed. Animals will be placed in captivity
Thank you, 
Todd Hardwick 
(Bold emphasis added) 

I take Todd Hardwick at his word. These animals were not slaughtered. To the contrary, they were placed in captivity. 

The removals stopped cold in 2015 – that is until July 29, 2021, as indicated on the village supplied receipts. The Village has not documented any Muscovy duck removals occurring until recently, at least 3 years after my third term ended. 

But there is more. What concerns me is an 11-19-2021 removal of a fox at Coral Reef Park. What did the fox do? It was probably trying to make a go of it in the 5 acre nature preserve at the park - a place where native animals (such as foxes) should have sanctuary. And, by the way, foxes are predators of Muscovy ducks. Both the ducks and the eggs. Perhaps removal of the fox upset a natural balance going on at the park, keeping the duck population manageable - I cannot recall any complaints from 2015 to November 2018 when I last held office. 

Receipts (provided through the Village of Palmetto Bay) (attached): 
11-17-2010     $ 750.00     10 Geese         Pesky Critters 
04-11-2011     $ 675.00     12 Geese         Pesky Critters 
11-01-2013     $ 572.00      7 Geese         Miami Animal Removal 
12-05-2013     $ 218.00     Swan Goose       Miami Animal Removal 
01-03-2014     $ 236.00     10 Geese         Miami Animal Removal 
04-15-2014     $ 413.00      7 Geese         Miami Animal Removal 
04-15-2015     $ 525.00      3 Geese         Pesky Critters 
04-24-2015     $2,275.00    13 Geese         Pesky Critters – 
                                             SPECIAL NOTE see email 
                                             of 4-14-2015 

SPECIAL NOTE email of 4-14-2015 from Todd Hardwick of Pesky Critters to CRP Manager Luis Tejeda: 
Pesky Critters can remove geese at Coral Reef Park at a cost of $175 per animal removed. Animals will be placed in captivity. 
Thank you, 
Todd Hardwick
(Bold emphasis added) 
Don't leave out this 2021 removal:

07-21-2021     $ 350.00      2 Geese         Pesky Critters 

Please note the difference through price and ultimate resolution regarding the wildlife: 

$ 175.00 for Pesky Critters – the geese were humanely removed and placed into captivity 
$   45.00 for current trappers of Muscovy Ducks – slaughtered and photos of dead ducks circulated. 

Also see the records I pulled from the Palmetto Bay check register. (pictured below)
I am available to answer any follow-up questions regarding this at (305) 302-3713. However, my blanket statement is that any statement that ducks or geese were removed and killed during my terms of office is a slanderous falsehood, as the receipts clearly show this was not the case. 

This is not a political issue. The issue is how our wildlife is treated in Palmetto Bay.