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A Palm Beach County Man Sentenced for Unlawfully Transporting Endangered Sea Turtles

February 26, 2015

Field photograph of early 300 sea turtle eggs recovered from poacher by law enforcement

Nearly 300 sea turtle eggs recovered from poacher Photo: FWC Law Enforcement

A Palm Beach County resident was sentenced on Friday, February 13 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra for unlawfully transporting endangered sea turtles.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and William H. Calvert, Supervisory Law Enforcement Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, West Palm Beach, made the announcement.

On August 15, 2014, James Odell McGriff, 56, of Riviera Beach, Florida, dug into two sea turtle nests and unlawfully took 299 endangered sea turtle eggs. Twelve of the eggs were held as evidence, and the remaining 287 sea turtle eggs were returned to the nests, in an effort to allow the eggs to continue to develop and possibly hatch. All species of sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, as either threatened or endangered species. McGriff intended to sell the illegally obtained eggs for $20.00 a dozen. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the black market value is between $3.00 and $5.00 per stolen egg, for a total profit of between $897.00 and $1,495.00.

McGriff was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Additionally, Judge Marra ordered that McGriff not go east of the Intercoastal Waterway while he is on supervised release.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Enact Additional Manatee Protection Measures at Three Sisters Springs

February 26, 2015

Antillian manatee /Manatí Antillano by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region, on Flickr

Manatee (Trichechus manatus) Photo: Darryl Stansbury

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its Final Environmental Assessment “Manatee Wildlife Viewing on Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Three Sisters Springs, Citrus County, Florida.”

“We appreciate the public’s support for our mission, and we carefully considered everyone’s comments,” said Andrew Gude, who manages Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, as well as Lower Suwannee, Cedar Keys, and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuges. “Thanks to that input, we hope we have reached the best way to protect manatees, and provide for positive experiences for people wanting to swim with these gentle giants.”

This allows the Service to implement the precautionary measures to avert disturbance of manatees from watercraft and manatee viewing activities for the remainder of the 2014 – 2015 manatee season.

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Environmental Assessment (PDF, 2.1MB)
Finding of No Significant Impact to Manatee (PDF, 300KB)


2015 Student Wildlife Art Contest Georgia Junior Duck Stamp Program Entries Due Postmarked by March 16th

February 19, 2015

Green-winged teal acrylic painting by Bethany Panhorst, 2014 Georgia Best of Show

Green-winged teal acrylic painting by Bethany Panhorst, 2014 Georgia Best of Show.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently accepting student entries for the 2015 Georgia Junior Duck Stamp competition, a fun way to connect children with nature. All students from public and private schools, home-schools and art studios statewide are invited to compete for recognition, prizes and scholarships in this learning activity that promotes the conservation of America’s waterfowl, wetlands and waterfowl habitat. The deadline for all entries is to be postmarked by midnight Monday, March 16, 2015.

This popular Junior Duck Stamp competition recognizes Georgia’s top 100 student waterfowl artists from kindergarten through high school. Visit for the 2015 contest information, rules, list of eligible species, entry requirements, contest rules, entry forms and the free waterfowl curriculum!

Each year, hundreds of Georgia students compete to win these top honors. Teachers can use the new integrated science and art curriculum provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a basis for each participating student to research and then artistically portray a duck, goose or other waterfowl species native to North America. Design entries must be the student’s original, hand-illustrated creation and may not be traced, copied from photographs or other artists’ works. Photographs taken by the student may be used as references in the development of the design. Computers or other mechanical devices may not be used in creating artwork. All artwork submitted must be on paper and an original 9” x 12” horizontal image of an eligible North American duck, geese or swan species. All contest participants will receive the Junior Duck Stamp Program certificate of appreciation.

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SeaWorld San Antonio Transports Rehabilitated Manatee via U.S. Coast Guard Plane to Sister Park in Orlando, FL

February 18, 2015

Male manatee, Trinidad, is getting accustomed to his new rehabilitation pool at SeaWorld Orlando. Credit: SeaWorld

Male manatee, Trinidad, is getting accustomed to his new rehabilitation pool at SeaWorld Orlando. Credit: SeaWorld

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Earlier today, SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue Team and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sent Trinidad, a male Florida manatee, to SeaWorld Orlando in a U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue plane.

After receiving care and rehabilitation at SeaWorld San Antonio for the past three months, Trinidad was healthy enough to make the trip, and is one step closer to being returned back to his natural environment.

Trinidad, who travelled from Florida to the Texas coast, was rescued by a number of members of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, SeaWorld San Antonio and an expert from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, on November 25, 2014. A deputy with the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office found him swimming in the cold waters of the NRG Energy power plant outflow in Trinity Bay near Houston. At the time of rescue, he weighed 960 pounds and was showing signs of cold stress, malnourishment and dehydration.

The male manatee received the name Trinidad, a Spanish translation of Trinity, because of the location where he was found, Trinity Bay.

USFWS requested the manatee be transferred to SeaWorld San Antonio, where he received medical treatment and rehabilitation, including antibiotics, tube feeding and other supportive care.

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More Than $14 Million in Grants Will Support Recreational Boating

Infrastructure projects provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, create jobs

February 12, 2015

An aerial photo of a recently completed boating access project in Alabama

A recently completed boating access project in Alabama. Source: Damon Abernethy, AL DCNR

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announced more than $12.2 million in competitive grants to 10 states for projects to support recreational boating through the Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program. The Service will also release approximately $2 million in grants to 21 states willing to match a smaller program within BIG.

Grantees use BIG funds to construct, renovate and maintain marinas and other facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 10 days or less) that are 26 feet or more in length and used for recreation. Grantees also may use funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating.

“Not only do these grants help create safe and accessible tie-up facilities, they provide an economic boost for local communities across the nation,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “The BIG program works with partners to improve recreational boating and fishing opportunities. It strengthens community ties by enhancing access to recreational, historic, cultural, natural and scenic resources for millions of boat owners.”

The BIG program includes two funding tiers, Tier One (competitive in some states) and Tier Two (nationally competitive). Under Tier One each state, the District of Columbia and insular areas may receive funding for eligible projects up to $100,000 annually. Tier Two funds, up to $1.5 million annually per project, are made available through a nationally competitive process.

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Last updated: February 26, 2015