Walk on the Wild Side: Managing Owner-and-Wildlife Interactions

Homeowners with an affinity for animals often pose problems for community associations and their managers. But it’s one thing when you’re dealing with domesticated pets — it’s another when the owners want to interact with area wildlife.

As the president of a Florida gated golf community recently told the Panama City News Herald, “[i]f someone was to get hurt …, you know damn well they’ll go after the property owners association for not adequately addressing it.” Managers also could find themselves in the cross-hairs.

That association president spoke from experience. His association, which borders a 23-square mile wetlands preserve and remnant of the Everglades, spent years dealing with the repercussions of an owner who got a little too close to the surrounding wildlife. Their story illustrates some of the potential problems for your clients that are located close to nature.

In an August 2019 letter to the association, the owner in the case said she chose to live there because of her love for animals and nature. According to local and national media reports, though, this love eventually wreaked havoc for her neighbors in the posh community of almost 2,000 acres.

The problems first popped up in 2016, three years after she moved in. A neighbor testified that she saw the woman sitting on the berm in her yard that led down to the wetlands, with raw chicken beside her and alligators swimming toward her. State wildlife officers issued her a citation and relocated an oversized alligator that had become too comfortable around humans.

But the alligator was nothing compared to the hordes of vultures to come.

To learn how the situation escalated from there, and how you can help your clients preempt similar situations, read our new article: Wildlife: A Draw for Owners — but Also a Risk.

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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