North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Threatened and Endangered Species: Updated MMPA Report for West Indian Manatee

2012 Revised Florida and Antillean Manatee Stock Assessments Available

Manatee swims near Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Manatee swims near Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Photo: Keith Ramos, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the availability of its 2012 marine mammal stock assessment reports (SAR) for the two West Indian manatee sub-species: the Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico and the Florida manatee. The reports assess the manatee population status within the context of fisheries.

The formal Notice of Availability published on Thursday, January 23, 2014, in the Federal Register. A 90-day public review and comment period closed on June 26, 2013.

Comments and supporting information that were submitted during this period, as well as the final reports are available online via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: Search for Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2012-0081.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A Tampa Bay Times article published January 23, 2013 by Craig Pittman contained an error in fact. In the third paragraph the reference to 99 commercial fisheries deaths is incorrect. As stated in the report, there has been a five-year average of 99 human related deaths per year (Table 1, pg 17); none of which were tied to commercial fisheries operations.

Thus, within the context of this fisheries focused report, lethal take of Florida manatees from commercial fisheries activities is obviously well below the calculated Potential Biological Removal (PBR) number of 14.98 (pg 3).

As noted in the Service spokesperon's interview with Mr. Pittman, this report acknowledges there remain other human and natural threats but only focused its conclusions within the fisheries context as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

The report and list of references is available below.

Notice of Availability of final reports- PDF - 237KB

2012 Florida manatee SAR - PDF - 472KB

2012 Antillean manatee SAR (Puerto Rico)

Threatened and Endangered Species: Agreement Aims to Improve Cooperative Conservation

Service and Florida FWC jointly respond to Tampa Bay Times Editorial

This is in response to a March 31 editorial “Deck stacked for developers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took an important step last year to streamline and simplify a process to protect threatened and endangered species.

The amendment to our long-standing cooperative agreement — the first of its kind — represents a cooperative, load-sharing arrangement that consolidates two permitting processes into one, serves our citizens more efficiently and enhances our conservation work to protect imperiled species.

All existing Endangered Species Act requirements remain in place. It represents our strong partnership and the belief that the agreement will allow both agencies to concentrate our resources on what matters most: conserving Florida’s unique fish and wildlife for the continuing benefit of Floridians from the Panhandle to the Keys.

Here’s how the cooperative agreement works: The commission’s biologists, working with the service, will produce permitting guidelines, or plans, for any species it wishes to include under the agreement. The plans will outline the condition of the species and prescribe ground rules for the commission’s issuance of permits authorizing direct or incidental take of the species...

Go here to read entire response.

Link to Column as it appeared in the April 12, 2013, online edition of Tampa Bay Times

Threatened and Endangered Species: Update Permit Conditions

Service posts updated permit conditions for captive sea turtles

Juvenile Hawksbill sea turtle being held.

Hawksbill sea turtle

Photo: USFWS

Individuals and institutions possessing a Service permit to hold captive sea turtles must meet new permit conditions.

The updated Standard Permit Conditions encompass the transport, rehabilitation, and disposition of sea turtles.

Details for the new conditions can be found on the Landowner/Consultant Tools and Sea Turtle information pages.

Frequently Asked Questions on Sea Turtle Permits

Service makes updated Skink Guidance Available

Sand Skink

Sand skink.

Photo: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has revised the conservation guidelines and survey protocol for the threatened sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) and blue-tailed mole skink (Eumeces egregius lividus). The updated information is available via the link below and on our Consultant/Landowner Tools reference page.

Skink Information

Updated Eastern indigo snake protocols for North & Central Florida

Eastern Indigo Snake

Eastern Indgio Snake
Photo: USFWS

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's North Florida Ecological Services Office (NFESO) updated its Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) protocols. The updated survey protocols provide consultants and landowners a project planning tool to improve the Service's review of permit applications and proposed land clearing activities for potential effects on the federally-threatened eastern indigo snake. The tool is applicable to the NFESFO geographic area of responsibility, which includes the following counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Orange, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam, St. Johns, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, and Volusia.

Click here for to review the new information

Checkout Service's South Florida Office conversations as well.

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Last updated: January 27, 2014