Pest Management on the Refuge
The endangered lower Keys marsh rabbit. Credit: USFWS.
Feral cats are predators of many protected species. Credit: USFWS.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex includes four units of the National Wildlife Refuge System – National Key Deer Refuge, and the Key West, Great White Heron, and Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuges. These refuges provide a diversity of habitats for more than 30 threatened and endangered species, some of which are found nowhere else, including the Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium), Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri), and Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli).
Predation by the domestic cat (Felis catus) and other exotic species that have invaded the Florida Keys has impacted populations of several native species and threatens their long-term viability. Native raccoons (Procyon lotor) have also been known to prey on endangered species when raccoon abundance is inflated by human-subsidized food sources; thus it is incumbent upon the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex to ensure that similar impacts are prevented from occurring.
In keeping with its mission to conserve, protect, and enhance native fish and wildlife and the habitats they depend upon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will actively control and remove certain invasive and exotic animals from public lands in the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex. The Service is responsible for preventing the introduction of these species, detecting and eradicating or controlling their populations, and restoring populations of native wildlife and their habitats on National Wildlife Refuges. The strategies and justification for taking these actions are detailed in an Integrated Pest Management Plan.
- OurAnimalFamily.org - a partnership for the betterment of all our animals, domestic and wild. Our Animal Family was formed on the belief that all animals have the right to a safe and healthy life.
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- Fact Sheet on Free-Roaming Cats in the Florida Keys (PDF)