At its December meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) gave an update on the agency’s efforts to address nonnative fish and wildlife.
Florida’s subtropical climate supports the establishment of nonnative species and allows some species to thrive once they have escaped or been introduced. When a nonnative species becomes a threat to native wildlife, human health and safety, or the economy, it is considered invasive.
“Invasive nonnative species are detrimental to our native wildlife and natural habitats and can pose a risk to human health and safety,” said Kristen Sommers, who leads the agency’s Wildlife Impact Management Section. “More and more people are reaching out to us for help with the nonnative species they are encountering. We take citizen complaints and concerns very seriously, and we have responded by increasing our resources and expanding our efforts to address this threat to Florida.”
“One of our priorities is to conserve our native species and protect them from the threat of invasive species,” said Commissioner Richard Hanas. “We need to do whatever we can to meet that challenge.”
Once a nonnative species becomes established, the amount of time and funds required to control the species increases. To address the impacts of invasive species in the state, the FWC has realigned its resources and prioritized species by their level of risk. The agency has focused its efforts on high-priority invasive species such as Burmese pythons, lionfish and Argentine black and white tegus. A multi-pronged approach led by the FWC includes:
Activation of the Python Contractor Program, Python Pickup Program and Python Patrol Program.
Initiation of the Reef Rangers Control Program, Lionfish Removal & Awareness Day, and Lionfish Challenge.
Expansion of tegu trapping efforts, FWC Trap-Loan Program, and use of private contractors.
These innovative techniques have been instrumental in the management and removal of these high-priority invasive species.
With the collaboration and support of many federal, state and local partners, as well as the public, the FWC continues to work to minimize the impact of nonnative species in the state.
For more information about nonnative species, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.