The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission governs The Imperiled Species Management Plan, which is designed to conserve 57 fish and wildlife species over the next 10 years in Florida.
This year, after a year long study and scientific review on five species from their active list of Species of Special Concern, they have determined that four species no longer belong on the list and only one is now listed as State Threatened. The Species of Special Concern is a temporary category of protection for species that the FWC are studying and researching to determine if they should be placed on the Threatened List.
The only species of the five that was put on the State Threatened list is one distinct species of the Alligator Snapping Turtle. The Alligator Snapping Turtle was determined to have three distinct species in Florida but only one, the Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle, is now listed as State Threatened.
The four species moved off of the Species of Special Concern Active list are:
The Harlequin Darter
Southern Fox Squirrel
Monroe County “Keys” Osprey
The change took effect Dec. 23, 2018 and while they will still have certain protections from capture and hunting, they will no longer be subject to specific Imperiled Species Management Plans. This means that anyone developing in areas of their habitats have fewer rules but the FWC has recommended conservation practices for landowners and the public to help maintain the status of each of these species.
Some of the animals that were removed from the list may raise concern for their future as the environments continue to change and the population of the species can decrease rapidly in the event of disasters to their habitats. According to an article by the Miami Herald, the Keys Osprey is of particular concern because of the recent problem with green algae and seagrass die-off in the Florida Bay.
Dr. Brad Gruver, head of the FWC's Species Conservation Planning Section stated in a press release that the FWC is committed to the long-term healthy populations of Florida's native wildlife and will continue ongoing conservation efforts for the species that have been removed from the Threatened Species List.
All native Florida species are carefully watched and studied to maintain proper balances and keep them from becoming threatened. Learn more about Florida's Wildlife on the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commision website.