What is an “imperiled species” anyway? It can be confusing because sometimes they’re called endangered, threatened, or other similar names, depending on who’s talking and what specifically they are talking about.
Basically the phrase “imperiled species” refers to wildlife species that we are in danger of losing. There are two levels: endangered and threatened. Endangered means there is high risk of the species becoming extinct. Gone. Forever. Threatened means there is a high risk of the species becoming endangered. Both mean the critters need saving.
Saving imperiled species such as endangered or threatened panthers, gopher tortoises and corals, is all about partnering. They belong to all of us and we all share responsibility. You may not be a scientist or teacher, but you can make a difference by getting involved. When researchers, wildlife and habitat managers, law makers, educators, law enforcement, and all of us work together, we can get it done.
In Florida there are currently 133 imperiled wildlife species. Some are endangered, some are threatened. Some are listed by the state government; some by the federal government. Some have caveats attached such as that the designation only applies to those critters found in certain parts of the state.
Nonetheless, it’s up to all of us to do what’s necessary to ensure we don’t lose them forever. There are well known critters on the list like panthers, manatees and sea turtles, but also some that most people have never heard of such as pillar, elkhorn and staghorn corals; invertebrates like the squirrel chimney cave shrimp; bugs, including the American burying
beetle and several kinds of butterflies; and more than 100 other kinds of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, corals, crustaceans, insects and mollusks.
Until just a few years ago the American bald eagle and the Florida black bear were also on that list. But by working together partners identified and found solutions to the problems that put them there in the first place, and then created and implemented management plans designed to keep them off forever. It’s not easy or quick, but together we can make good things happen.
By 2015, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is expected to approve an Imperiled Species Management Plan that will identify habitat needs and other things necessary to help the state’s imperiled species populations improve. It will be a sort of road map for the FWC to work with its partners, including the public, to ensure the state’s imperiled species are managed for the long term and preserve Florida’s wildlife legacy for generations to come.
For a list of Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species and more about them, and to learn about the new conservation model for Florida wildlife please visit the FWC’s imperiled species website http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/imperiled/.
©2015 Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. FEIN 59-3277808. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.