Preliminary review of Fla.'s threatened wildlife under way
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130
The preliminary findings of biological status
reviews on listed species reveal success stories for some of
Florida's most vulnerable species. Although work is still under
way, in early November, experts appointed by the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) began to review the
information and data received on 61 state-listed species against
Florida's listing criteria. The groups found that several
species may no longer be at risk of extinction and may not need to
"We hope these preliminary findings will result in
the discovery that our conservation measures in the past decade
have had measurable, beneficial impacts on wildlife in Florida,"
said Dr. Elsa Haubold, who heads up the FWC's threatened-species
listing process team.
Ten currently listed mammals have undergone the
preliminary status reviews, and initial results indicate that five
species do not meet listing criteria. These species include:
- Florida black bear,
- Florida mouse,
- Homosassa shrew,
- Sherman's fox squirrel.
Four of 21 currently state-listed birds also do not
meet the criteria:
- brown pelican,
- snowy egret,
- white ibis.
The biological status review groups found that the
following bird and mammal species met at least one of the listing
- American oystercatcher,
- least tern,
- little blue heron,
- reddish egret,
- roseate spoonbill,
- tricolored heron,
- southern coastal osprey,
- southeastern American kestrel,
- white-crowned pigeon,
- Florida sandhill crane,
- Marian's marsh wren,
- Scott's seaside sparrow,
- Wakulla seaside sparrow,
- Worthington's marsh wren,
- black skimmer,
- snowy plover,
- burrowing owl,
- Everglades mink,
- Florida bonneted bat,
- Sanibel Island rice rat,
- Sherman's short-tailed shrew,
- Big Cypress fox squirrel.
Haubold cautions this is only the first step in the
careful process of studying the status of these species. After all
61 species receive the scrutiny of the biological status review
teams, composed of recognized experts and led by an FWC staff
member, the reports will be sent for review to national and
international experts for each wildlife species. However, before
the Commission removes any species from the list, a management plan
will have to be written and approved. One goal of the management
plans is to ensure the species never reaches a high risk of
extinction again, which would result in the need to re-list the
The reviews in Florida are still under way for many
of the remaining 61 species, and the preliminary findings will be
available sometime in early December. The Commission could consider
staff recommendations as early as April.
"This is a huge effort on the part of the teams,
and the process is working very well," Haubold said. "But this does
not mean our work is done - far from it. We still have lots to do
to ensure no species ever goes extinct in Florida."
One of the species reviewed was the Florida black
bear, which is currently listed as threatened in Florida. The
biological review group found black bear numbers have increased and
the population is not in decline. However, before any change in
status is made, several steps must be completed, including
developing a management plan that ensures the species will continue
to thrive in the future.
The FWC is currently accepting public and
stakeholder input on the draft bear-management plan to make sure it
contains the best possible objectives and strategies to conserve
Florida black bears.
"When a species is delisted - no longer in danger
of extinction - it is truly a reason to celebrate," Haubold said.
"It means Florida's past efforts to increase protected and
well-managed habitat, educate the public and manage the population
have resulted in the very best possible scenario: a species brought
back from a high risk of extinction."