Published: Feb 26, 2013 2:56 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area will hold an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day on Saturday, March 2nd from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers. This event enables people to surrender their non-native pets free of charge and with no penalties.

The goal is to reduce the number of non-native species being released into the wild by pet owners who can no longer care for their pets or no longer wish to keep them.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Days have had great success in other areas of the state such as Miami.

To date, more than 500 non-native species have been observed in the wild in Florida, and more than 130 have reproducing populations. It is illegal to release any animal not native to Florida.

At each pet amnesty day, every attempt is made to place all healthy animals with qualified adopters. Pet adopters must be pre-qualified to receive surrendered animals. Anyone interested in adopting exotic pets can download the application forms at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives. Adoption applications must be received by Feb. 28 to be processed in time for this event.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day is a free, family event. Live animals will be on display, and experts will be on hand to talk about proper care of exotic pets.

Additional information about Exotic Pet Amnesty Day and exotic animals in Florida can be found at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.

Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium is located at 3450 Ortiz Ave Fort Myers, FL 33905.