NORTH PORT — A woman faces contempt of court charges after missing a hearing for improperly caging class III mammals, according to reports released Thursday.
The mammals are raccoons.
Investigators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission first made contact with Tori Lynn Parsons in December 2019, after receiving a complaint that a woman was keeping raccoons at a home on Myakka Drive in Venice.
Parsons, 43, told investigators she had rescued two raccoons from a tree, according to court records. She said the animals were with a friend, but she could not remember the friend’s name, or how to contact the friend.
The state wildlife officers told her she had no permits for keeping wild-caught raccoons, and it was considered a criminal offense to keep them, court records show. They told Parsons she would need to bring the raccoons to the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida in Venice, a licensed facility, to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Investigators gave her three days to transport the animals to avoid criminal charges.
The wildlife officers followed up with the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida the next week and learned they had not received the raccoons.
Wildlife officers continued to get complaints about Parsons and the raccoons. Investigators point out in a report that Parsons’ Facebook page shows photos of her next to the animals, referring to them as her “babies,” her son and her daughter.
On May 29, with the situation unresolved, a Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputy spoke with Parsons, who initially said the raccoons were with a friend. She eventually said the raccoons were in the home, and brought out two in a cat carrier.
The deputy issued Parsons a citation for possession of wild caught raccoons, a second-degree misdemeanor, according to court records. A court date was set for July.
Sarasota County Animal Service took charge of animals and took them to a licensed rehabilitation center.
After a continuance, Parsons was scheduled for a hearing Tuesday. When Parsons did not appear in court, a judge issued a warrant for Parsons’ arrest.
Parsons had moved to North Port by that time.
North Port Police arrested Parsons on the contempt charge Wednesday. Her address on the arrest report is on the 3100 block of Lucaya Avenue. She was released Thursday on $200 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Oct. 8.