Florida plan conserves 57 imperiled fish and animals

Flordia_silToday at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting in Panama City Beach, staff presented the draft of the Florida Imperiled Species Management Plan, an innovative, integrated and comprehensive approach to conserving multiple imperiled species.

The plan combines managing the specific needs of 57 imperiled species with a new, larger-scale strategy addressing how to help multiple fish and wildlife species thrive and survive in the habitats they share.

The plan’s key objectives include working on filling data gaps and identifying more systematic, coordinated approaches to imperiled species management. The FWC designed the plan to make more efficient use of its resources in order to achieve measureable goals on important conservation priorities.

“This is an exciting and groundbreaking strategy with science working the way it should,” said Julie Wraithmell, director of conservation for Audubon Florida. “We are excited to see a tailor-made plan that will fit each species like a glove.”

Stakeholder involvement throughout this process has been very important to the FWC.

“Working closely with stakeholders, we are blazing the trail with this innovative process,” said FWC Chairman Brian S. Yablonski. “Some species are going on the list and some are coming off but all 57 are winners in this process.”

The public is invited to read and comment on the draft of the plan, with the opportunity to provide feedback over the next 60 days. It is available online at MyFWC.com/Imperiled.

The FWC first approved this new conservation model in 2010, and creating the plan has been a continuing collaborative effort. Recently, the public and stakeholders submitted more than 500 comments on improving earlier drafts of the plan.

“From the tiny blackmouth shiner to the Florida sandhill crane, the Imperiled Species Management Plan will conserve 57 species that reflect the diversity and beauty of our state’s wildlife. Floridians’ input, support and actions are also critical to making the plan a success,” said Dr. Brad Gruver, HSC section leader for Species Conservation Planning. “Once the plan is approved in 2016, the FWC will need many partners, both individuals and organizations, to help make this plan a living, working approach to conserve these imperiled species for future generations.”

Important things to know about the Imperiled Species Management Plan:

It includes one-page summaries for each species, including a map of their range in Florida and online links to their Species Action Plan. The action plans contain specific conservation goals, objectives and actions for all 57 imperiled species.
It also has Integrated Conservation Strategies to benefit multiple species and their habitats that focus implementation of the plan on areas and issues that yield the greatest conservation benefit for the greatest number of species.
The 57 species in the plan include (* indicates it is coming off the list of imperiled species):
8 mammals: Big Cypress fox squirrel, Eastern chipmunk*, Everglades mink, Florida mouse*, Homosassa shrew, Sanibel rice rat, Sherman’s fox squirrel and Sherman’s short-tailed shrew
21 birds: American oystercatcher, black skimmer, brown pelican*, Florida burrowing owl, Florida sandhill crane, least tern, limpkin*, little blue heron, Marian’s marsh wren, osprey (Monroe County population), reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, Scott’s seaside sparrow, snowy egret*, snowy plover, southeastern American kestrel, tricolored heron, Wakulla seaside sparrow, white ibis*, white-crowned pigeon and Worthington’s marsh wren
12 reptiles: alligator snapping turtle, Barbour’s map turtle, Florida brown snake (Lower Keys population), Florida Keys mole skink, Florida pine snake, Key ringneck snake, peninsula ribbon snake* (Lower Keys population), red rat snake* (Lower Keys population), rim rock crowned snake, short-tailed snake, striped mud turtle* (Lower Keys population) and Suwanee cooter*
4 amphibians: Florida bog frog, Georgia blind salamander; gopher frog* and Pine Barrens treefrog*
9 fish: blackmouth shiner, bluenose shiner, crystal darter, harlequin darter, Lake Eustis pupfish*, key silverside, mangrove rivulus*, saltmarsh top minnow and Southeastern tessellated darter
3 invertebrates: Black Creek crayfish, Florida tree snail* and Santa Fe crayfish
Among the plan’s 57 species, 14 were listed as state Threatened prior to the plan and will remain listed as state Threatened; 23 will change listing from Species of Special Concern to state Threatened; five will remain Species of Special Concern; and 15 will be removed from the imperiled species list but continue to be included in the plan for direction in monitoring and conserving them.

Find out more about the plan at MyFWC.com/Imperiled.

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