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Reintroduction of Florida Semaphore Cactus to Florida Keys

August 25, 2015

A bright green cactus grows out of a rocky outcrop

Florida semaphor cactus. Photo: Dave Bender, USFWS

David Bender is the type of guy who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, in fact, he wants to - - as long as plants are involved, particularly those that are threatened or endangered.

In May 2014, Bender, a botanist with the South Florida Ecological Services Office, traveled to Crocodile Lake and Key Deer National Wildlife Refuges in the Florida Keys with co-workers Anthony Sowers and Brian Powell to plant 350 Florida semaphore cacti.

“We chose the refuges because public federal lands, especially national wildlife refuges and national parks, offer the best protection for listed plants,” Bender said.

Due to concerns about storm surge and sea level rise, their strategy was to plant the cacti in areas of higher elevation in suitable habitat that gets enough sunlight. In addition, they wanted to plant them in areas where there’s not too much human traffic.

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Service Announces Critical Habitat Designations for Florida Brickell-Bush and Carter’s Small-Flowered Flax

August 14, 2015

A small yellow flower blooming on a hearty stem

Carter's small-flowered flax. Photo: Keith Bradley

VERO BEACH, Fla. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing critical habitat designations for two plants found only in South Florida: the Florida brickell-bush and Carter’s small-flowered flax. Both were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act on October 4, 2014. The critical habitat for both plants is located in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Both plants only are found on the Miami Rock Ridge in South Florida. The critical habitat designations for these two plants largely overlap, for a combined total of about 2,706 acres. The plants’ critical habitat designations include land in pine rockland habitat on the Miami Rock Ridge, outside of Everglades National Park, in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Areas within the designations include occupied and unoccupied, but suitable, habitat within the plants’ historical ranges.

These two pine rockland plants had been candidates for federal listing since 1999. The listing of these plants with critical habitat and the associated economic analysis are part of the Service’s efforts to implement a court-approved work plan aimed at addressing a series of lawsuits concerning the agency’s ESA listing program. To learn more about the Service’s work plan for 2015, please visit

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Questions and Answers

Fish and Wildlife Service Announces $37.2 Million in Grants to Boost State Endangered Species Conservation Efforts
AL, AR, FL, NC, TN Receive Funding in Southeast

August 13, 2015

Three winged mapleleaf mussels in hand

Winged mapleleaf mussels can be found in the Saline river, AR; photo: Sarah Sorenson, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced $37.2 million in grants to 20 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered species across the nation. The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous species, ranging from the Cahaba shiner to the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Five southeasterm states received a combined total of $4,112,981 in grants - - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Project descriptions are listed below. For a nationwide list of the 2015 grant awards under these programs visit the Endangered Species grants website.

“Private landowners and natural resource managers play a vital role in conserving our nation’s most imperiled wildlife,”said Service Director Dan Ashe. “By cultivating partnerships between federal, state and local governments, private organizations and individuals, we can establish creative and effective solutions to some of the greatest conservation challenges of our time. These grants are one of many tools available under the Endangered Species Act, and we look forward to providing continued guidance and support for these programs.”

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Significant achievement in the transfer of Puerto Rican parrots to the Maricao Commonwealth Forest
DNER, USFWS and USFS move 30 parrots as a first step to establish the 3rd parrot population in the wild; another milestone for the recovery of the species

August 13, 2015

Puerto rican parrot on a tree limb with one wing extended

Puerto Rican parrot. Photo: Tom MacKenzie, USFWS

Thursday, August 13, 2015, Maricao, P. R. - Secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), Carmen R. Guerrero Perez; the Regional Director of the Southeast Region of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Cynthia K. Dohner; and the Regional Forester of the Southeast Region of the US Forest Service (USFS), Tony Tooke, reported the transfer of 30 Puerto Rican parrots the Maricao Commonwealth Forest, a significant step to establish the third population of this endangered species.

The parrots were transferred to a new flight cage where scientists from both aviaries trained for about a year so they can be released into the forest and establish the third population of the parrot in the wild, an essential element for the recovery of the species.

The 30 individuals were successfully bred in the Dr. Jose Luis Vivaldi, DNER aviary, located in the Rio Abajo Commonwealth Forest in Utuado; and the Iguaca, USFWS aviary, located in El Yunque National Forest, east side of the island.

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Illinois Man Sentenced for Violating the Lacey Act

August 5, 2015

Wood turtles covered in duct tape recovered by law enforcement

Wood turtles recovered by law enforcement. Photo: USFWS

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that KEITH CANTORE, age 35, of Monee, Illinois, was sentenced today for violating the Lacey Act by attempting to purchase threatened turtles that were captured in violation of state law.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt sentenced CANTORE to 41 months incarceration, to be followed by three years of supervised release and $100 special assessment. Additionally, CANTORE was ordered to pay approximately $41,000 in restitution.

According to court records, CANTORE was charged with three counts of purchasing and/or attempting to purchase threatened species of turtles that were illegally captured from the wild. CANTORE pled guilty to attempted purchase of 100 North American Wood Turtles for $40,000.

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Last updated: August 25, 2015