In this month of Valentine’s Day and celebrations of love, I wanted to talk about my love for nature. Anyone who knows me knows that I have always had a passion for the native Florida environment. Being a 3rd generation native Floridian (a rare species in and of itself), I feel a kinship and protection over our native species and ecological systems. And, in order to stay in touch with what is happening, I subscribe to news blasts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on any number of topics such as panther depredation, birds, parks, etc. (You can sign up here if interested: http://myfwc.com/news/sign-up/). In a recent news blast, FWC distributed the latest changes in its Imperiled Species Management Plan. Filled with both good and bad news with regard to some of our native wildlife, I thought I would share the information with you as we have some of these species here in Viera and we see them every single day. We should all be aware of where these species rank in FWC’s conservation efforts. Here is the latest information:
• Fifteen species will no longer be listed as imperiled species because conservation successes improved their status: eastern chipmunk, Florida mouse, brown pelican, limpkin, snowy egret, white ibis, peninsula ribbon snake (lower Keys population), red rat snake (lower Keys population), striped mud turtle (lower Keys population), Suwannee cooter, gopher frog, Pine Barrens tree frog, Lake Eustis pupfish, mangrove rivulus and Florida tree snail. These species still are included in the plan for guidance in monitoring and conserving them.
• Twenty-three species are newly listed as state Threatened species, a change from their former status as Species of Special Concern: Sherman’s short-tailed shrew, Sanibel rice rat, little blue heron, tricolored heron, reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, American oystercatcher, black skimmer, Florida burrowing owl, Marian’s marsh wren, Worthington’s marsh wren, Scott’s seaside sparrow, Wakulla seaside sparrow, Barbour’s map turtle, Florida Keys mole skink, Florida pine snake, Georgia blind salamander, Florida bog frog, bluenose shiner, saltmarsh top minnow, southern tessellated darter, Santa Fe crayfish and Black Creek crayfish. Threatened species have populations that are declining, have a very limited range or are very small.
• Fourteen species keep their state Threatened status: Everglades mink, Big Cypress fox squirrel, Florida sandhill crane, snowy plover, least tern, white-crowned pigeon, southeastern American kestrel, Florida brown snake (lower Keys population), Key ringneck snake, short-tailed snake, rim rock crowned snake, Key silverside, blackmouth shiner and crystal darter.
• Five species remain Species of Special Concern: Homosassa shrew, Sherman’s fox squirrel, osprey (Monroe County population), alligator snapping turtle and harlequin darter. These species have significant data gaps, and the FWC plans to make a determination on their appropriate listing status in the near future.
I have underlined the species that are both definitely here in Viera and could potentially be in Viera. We have all been exposed to these species at some point – just about everyone who lives here has seen at least a Sandhill Crane. Hopefully, this information illustrates both the diversity in wildlife in our area and the continued need to support conservation efforts. The Viera Wilderness Park was created for this very purpose and you can read more about it here.
So, until next time, please remember … “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein
Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.