North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Threatened and Endangered Species: Decades of Conservation Recognized - Protections Remain

Service to propose status upgrade for West Indian manatees

USFWS Southeast photo of green sea turtle with star fish

Manatee at Crystal River NWR, Three Sisters Springs, in Florida
Photo: Keith Ramos, USFWS

[Comment period closed April 7, 2016.]

MIAMI, FL - As a result of significant improvements in its population and habitat conditions, and reductions in direct threats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the West Indian manatee is proposed to be downlisted from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposal to downlist the manatee to threatened will not affect federal protections currently afforded by the ESA, and the Service remains committed to conservation actions to fully recover manatee populations.

The ESA defines an endangered species as one currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a threatened species as one that is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. Given its review of the best scientific and commercial information available, including analyses of threats and populations, the Service proposes that the West Indian manatee no longer falls within the ESA's definition of endangered and should be reclassified as threatened. The Service will publish its proposal in the Federal Register tomorrow, beginning a 90-day comment period in which the public is invited to submit scientific or technical information that will aid the agency in reaching its final decision.

"The manatee is one of the most charismatic and instantly recognizable species," said Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. "It's hard to imagine the waters of Florida without them, but that was the reality we were facing before manatees were listed under the Endangered Species Act. While there is still more work to be done to fully recover manatee populations, their numbers are climbing and the threats to the species' survival are being reduced. Today's proposal is a positive step that recognizes the progress citizens, conservation groups, the State of Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and our own Service employees have made working together."

The manatee protection measures currently in place would remain in force if the species is downlisted from endangered to threatened.

The finding, supplemental materials, and all comments and information submitted during the comment period are available online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov/. In the Keyword box, enter Docket Number FWS-R4-ES-2015-0178. Background information on the Florida and Antillean sub-species is available at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/mammal/manatee/.

Comment period closed April 7, 2016.

NOTE: an inadvertent error occurred in the Federal Register's original notice published on January 8, 2016 reflecting the comment period closing April 8, 2015: that is not correct. The date shown above is the correct closing date. The FR published a correction in its Wednesday, January 13, 2016, edition, see link below.

Media contact:
Chuck Underwood (FWS), chuck_underwood@fws.gov, 904-731-3332

News Release Leaving site icon

Frequently Asked Questions - also has links to press conference transcript/audio, as well as the open house & public hearing transcript and materials.

Federal Register Notice - Proposal to Reclassify Leaving site icon

Federal Register Notice - Public Comment Period Closing Date Correction Leaving site icon


 

2016 Updated Wood Stork Map and Mapping Data Available

Wood storks and chicks on nest

Nesting Wood storks

Photo: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently completed updating the mapping information for Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) nesting colonies and core forging areas in Florida and the Southeastern U.S. The updated information reflects data from 2005 through 2014, and includes an updated PDF map, GIS shapefiles, and versions of the data compatible with Google Earth. The updated data files are available via the link below and on our Consultant/Landowner Tools reference page.

Wood stork Information


 

Changes made to ESA Section 7 consultation
request for FEMA CLOMR and CLOMR-F letters

FEMA is no longer accepting a programmatic clearance letter in support of Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) and CLOMR_F Letters of Request. As such, the North Florida FWS programmatic clearance letter is no longer available. FEMA now requires consultation letters be specific to each project. Public and private landowners, project managers/planners, and/or consultants now need to submit a clearance request to the Service and FEMA for each project.

Originally designed to assist private small parcel landowners and businesses, the programmatic clearance letter outlined details and specific scenarios and criteria where additional Service review was not considered necessary.

The Service's North Florida ES staff is providing updated information to aid project proponents in their development of a clearance request. See detailed requirements and preferred submission method via link below.

Details Available


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


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Last updated: April 8, 2016