FWC seeks input on conserving Florida burrowing owls in urban landscapes

FWC seeks input on conserving Florida burrowing owls in urban landscapesFlorida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission sent this bulletin at 06/19/2017 10:31 AM EDT

June 19, 2017

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: https://flic.kr/s/aHskZUQWTU

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FWC seeks input on conserving Florida burrowing owls in urban landscapes

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will hold a public meeting in July to provide information and gather input on the agency’s development of Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for the Florida burrowing owl.

The burrowing owl meeting is scheduled for July 6, 6 to 9 p.m., Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium Field House, 3700 NW 11th Place, Lauderhill, FL 33311. The meeting will be an open-house format so members of the public are welcome to come and go at any time.

In January, the listing status of the Florida burrowing owl changed from Species of Special Concern to state Threatened, as part of rule changes implementing the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Plan approved in November 2016.

The meeting will focus primarily on the process for developing permitting guidelines and on interim permitting processes for Florida burrowing owls in urban areas. The burrowing owl’s habitat was once native dry prairies, but today this owl is as likely to be found in open areas of urban and suburban landscapes. They dig their own burrows, but also may move into the burrows of other species, such as the gopher tortoise, or occasionally inhabit manmade structures such as pipes and drains.

“The FWC is inviting the public to meet with us, ask questions and offer input about permitting guidelines and the regulatory process for burrowing owls,” said Craig Faulhaber, the FWC’s avian conservation coordinator. 

FWC staff at the meeting will provide information on the protections that apply to burrowing owls, the process of developing Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines, and the interim permitting process until guidelines for this species are in place.

The Florida burrowing owl lives primarily in peninsular Florida and is the only burrowing owl east of the Mississippi River. As one of 57 species in the Imperiled Species Management Plan, the burrowing owl has a Species Action Plan that describes its biology, habitats and the FWC’s goals and actions for conserving this threatened species.

Manatee Downlisted from Endangered to Threatened; All Existing Federal Protections Remain in Place

On the heels of Manatee Appreciation Day, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced the downlisting of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened. Notable increases in manatee populations and improvements in its habitat allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to change the species’ status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

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Man Eating Pythons

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I had the good fortune of exchanging ideas with an old friend from Okeechobee today. I had sent him an article about the Indian snake charmers brought to Florida to hunt pythons. This, of course, led to a python discussion. I found out that he skinned the 17+ foot legendary snake killed at a local veterinarian’s office years back. He told me the skin was preserved to grace the wall of the new veterinary office. He also vividly recalled the snake’s girth. It was 27 inches. I wore size 26 Levi’s my senior year in high school. I had to fight back the thought of pythons wearing Levi’s or worse yet, crawling out of a pair as I reached for them.

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How to Eat the State Tree

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If there ever was a tree of life it would or should be the Sabal Palm. It has provided humans with food, shelter, and fiber for thousands of years. The breeze ruffling through its broad leaves provides serenity. The sound has lulled many a Florida cowboy, hunter and camper to sleep under the glorious shade it provides.  A cross section of the woody portion of the leaf looks like a softly rounded pyramid. The tree provided hours of entertainment for me and the kids I grew up with. We all had pocket knives. Dry or green the woody portions of the leaves were easily carved into darts, arrows, spears, wind mills, helicopters, fishing lures, marshmallow and hot dog grilling sticks. Street vendors can now be found selling elaborate weaving of the leaves turned into art. The trees were everywhere. The trunks have been turned into pilings, support posts for some of the gracious porches that wrap around old ‘Cracker’ houses in the interior of Florida as well as along the coast. Most have been replaced over the years, first by heart pine, then pressure treated timber. The logs are also effective in repelling cannon balls. Fort Moultrie (Fort Sullivan then), built to protect Charleston Harbor during the Revolution, came under attack June 1776 by British war ships. The palm logs remained impervious to the bombardment by ships and, by the end of the day, the British ships, heavily damaged, limped off. Four hundred patriots and palm logs handed the British a stinging defeat and set the tone for the rest of the Revolution. The event is still celebrated as ‘Carolina Day’. The name of the fort was changed to honor Commander William Moultrie who led his band of patriots to victory. The ground underneath is still called Sullivan’s Island. Continue reading “How to Eat the State Tree”