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FWC certifies new state record shoal bass

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologists certified a new state record shoal bass weighing 5.95 pounds and measuring 22.4 inches long, caught by 14-year-old angler Sheldon Grace from Headland, Alabama. Sheldon was excited to catch his shoal bass from a kayak in the Chipola River near Altha, Florida.

“I fought him for about 30 minutes and then when I got him close to the kayak, the jig popped right out of his mouth,” said Sheldon. “I quickly reached into the water and grabbed him because he was the biggest I’d caught all day.”

Sheldon and his father often fish for shoal bass and enjoy the beauty of the Chipola River. Shoal bass are one of the five black bass species in Florida.

“You can definitely tell that the quality and quantity of the shoal bass in the Chipola River are getting better,” said Sheldon.  “I guess I just got lucky. I had caught about six or seven 2- to 3-pounders and then right at the end of the day, I caught the record.”

The former state record shoal bass weighed 5.20 pounds and was caught in 2016 by Jimmy Ray Tice on the Apalachicola River.

The Chipola River is a spring-fed system with an incredibly unique range of habitats and is the only waterbody in Florida where there is a population of naturally reproducing, genetically pure shoal bass. The FWC has implemented several conservation projects to enhance this unique fishery. A video highlighting the charm of the Chipola River and the partnerships forged to protect it can be viewed on YouTube External Website by searching “FWC Chipola River.”

To properly certify a new Florida state record, a FWC biologist must identify the fish species and witness its weighing on a certified scale. Anglers can check the current state records External Website at BigCatchFlorida.com by clicking on “State Record,” and should notify the nearest FWC regional office if they believe they have caught a record fish. Contact information for FWC regional offices can be found at MyFWC.com/Contact by clicking on “Contact Regional Offices.”

The FWC recognizes other memorable freshwater catches through its Big Catch program External Website, which provides certificates commemorating trophy catches of 33 different freshwater species. Largemouth bass catches are recognized by the TrophyCatch program External Website, which is a citizen-science program that partners with industry leaders, such as Bass Pro Shops, to offer rewards for the catch, documentation and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier.

Giving thanks for Florida’s one-of-a-kind Osceola wild turkey

 

Did you know there are five subspecies of wild turkey in North America? However, Florida is the only place in the world where the Osceola subspecies is found. Also known as the Florida wild turkey, this unique bird lives only on the Florida peninsula. It's similar to the eastern subspecies, which is found in north Florida, but tends to be smaller and darker with less white barring on the wings.

Many people don’t know that wild turkeys are powerful fliers. They can fly as fast as 55 miles per hour for short distances. However, to conserve energy, turkeys spend most of their time on the ground, where they search for acorns, seeds, fruits, leaves, insects, small reptiles, frogs, snails and more. They are woodland birds, preferring open forests and where forests and fields meet.

Wild turkeys are social animals and typically flock together in groups. These wary birds have excellent eyesight and will run away or fly to a tree to escape danger. At night, they roost in trees to avoid ground predators.

“Wild turkeys are an amazing conservation success story in Florida and across North America,” said Brian Yablonski, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Chairman. “They had almost disappeared by the turn of the century, with populations remaining in remote pockets of habitat. However, thanks to science-based wildlife restoration efforts, today Osceola and eastern wild turkeys are thriving throughout the state.”

Because the Osceola subspecies is only found in Florida, the Sunshine State is a must-hunt destination for hunters pursuing their Grand SlamExternal Website. The National Wild Turkey FederationExternal Website, which recognizes grand slam accomplishments, works with the FWC’s wildlife professionals to support habitat improvement projects and the use of scientific data to conserve wild turkey populations and provide sustainable hunting opportunities. Wild turkey meat, which is leaner than store-bought birds, provides a delicious and clean-eating alternative for the Thanksgiving feast.

From the FWC family to yours, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

 

Gov. Scott & FWC: Green sea turtle nest numbers hit record

Today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced a record year for the number of green sea turtle nests in Florida. FWC staff documented approximately 39,000 green sea turtle nests, based on 27 Florida index beaches used to assess nesting trends.

Gov. Rick Scott said, “Today’s news is great for Florida and shows that our efforts to conserve Florida’s natural resources are helping the sea turtle population thrive. Florida’s beaches not only attract millions of visitors but are also home to abundant wildlife, like sea turtles, which is why my Securing Florida’s Future budget builds on our past investments and proposes a record $100 million for beach restoration. I am proud of FWC’s hard work to help our wildlife, and look forward to continuing to see record nesting for years to come.”

The final 2017 sea turtle nesting numbers from the FWC’s more comprehensive Statewide Nesting Beach Survey, covering 800 miles of Florida coastline, will be available in early 2018. Preliminary data, based on the recently completed Index Nesting Beach Survey, indicates the trend for green sea turtle nesting has experienced significant increases over the past 27 years.

“The success of our green sea turtles is a victory for conservation,” said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. “After years of many people and agencies working to conserve this species and its marine habitats, numbers of green sea turtles in our coastal waters and nesting on our beaches have increased substantially. Last year, the green sea turtles that nest on Florida beaches were reclassified from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ under the federal Endangered Species Act.” 

Nearly 30 years ago, only 464 green sea turtle nests were recorded on the 200 miles of beaches that are part of the Index Nesting Beach Survey. By 2011, the count was up to 10,701 green sea turtle nests; in 2013, it was 25,553 nests; and in 2015, it was about 28,000. The counts on index beaches represent about 68 percent of green sea turtle nests statewide. Green sea turtles nest more abundantly every other year, which contributes to the two-year spikes in their nesting numbers in Florida.

For more information about trends in sea turtle nest counts on Florida beaches, visit MyFWC.com/Research.

 

FWC awards BearWise funding to 10 communities to reduce human-bear conflicts

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: http://bit.ly/2vnjVhi External Website

Unsecured trash is the No. 1 reason that Florida black bears enter neighborhoods and come into conflict with people, so the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is awarding 10 communities with a total of $515,283 to address this critical issue.

BearWise funding will help communities purchase and provide bear-resistant trash cans, dumpsters and other equipment to their residents at a discounted cost. Funds are being distributed to each of the 10 communities that applied:

  • Seminole County - $189,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the western portion of Seminole County, which has an ordinance requiring trash be kept secure from bears.
  • Lake County - $85,508 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in Lake County, which has an ordinance requiring trash be kept secure from bears.
  • Volusia County - $75,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the western portion of Volusia County.
  • Holley by the Sea Improvement Association - $65,000 to purchase hardware to modify all 3,700 trash cans to make them bear-resistant in the Holley by the Sea Improvement Association, located in the southern portion of Santa Rosa County, which has an ordinance requiring trash be kept secure from bears.
  • Highlands County - $48,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the central portion of the Highlands County.
  • Orange County - $20,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the northwestern portion of Orange County, which has an ordinance requiring trash be kept secure from bears.
  • Walton County - $18,000 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for Walton County parks and to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant.
  • Air Force Enlisted Village - $7,700 to modify dumpsters to make them bear-resistant in this community in Okaloosa County.
  • Collier County Parks and Recreation - $3,675 to purchase bear-resistant trash cans for three Collier County parks.
  • Franklin County - $3,400 to purchase hardware to modify regular trash cans to make them bear-resistant for residents in the southern portion of Franklin County.

This year the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott provided $415,283 to the FWC to cost-share with local governments in areas with high levels of human-bear conflicts. At least 60 percent of the funding must go to communities with ordinances requiring trash be kept secure from bears until the morning of pickup. The FWC also received funding from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, which provided an additional $100,000 in proceeds from the Conserve Wildlife license plate.

FWC staff evaluated BearWise funding applications based on several factors, including:

  • Does the community have an ordinance requiring residents and businesses to keep trash and other attractants secure from bears?
  • How many households within the community are in an area with significant human-bear conflicts and how many residences and businesses are expected to benefit?
  • How much in matching funds or in-kind services can the community provide?
  • What is the likelihood the project will result in a community-wide reduction of human-bear conflicts?

For more information on Florida black bears, including how to reduce conflicts with them, visit MyFWC.com/Bear and click on “Live BearWise,” watch the BearWise Communities External Website  video and read the A guide to living in bear country brochure.

FWC holds public meetings on proposed conservation measures, permitting guidelines for burrowing owls

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

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will hold public meetings this month to provide information and gather input on newly developed draft conservation measures and permitting guidelines for the Florida burrowing owl.

In January 2017, 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 meetings will focus primarily on reviewing the agency’s draft Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for Florida burrowing owls. 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 man-made structures such as pipes and drains.

“The FWC is inviting the public to meet with us, ask questions and offer input about proposed Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for Florida’s burrowing owls,” said Craig Faulhaber, the FWC’s avian conservation coordinator.

The meetings will be held in Broward and Lee counties:

  • Nov.14, 5 to 7:30 p.m., Broward County West Regional Library, Room 103, 8601 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation, 33324. 
  • Nov. 28, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Estero Recreation Center, Room 103A, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero, 33928.

FWC staff will briefly present the protections that apply to burrowing owls, the draft Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines, and anticipated next steps for this species. Members of the public who attend will be welcome to share their suggestions or concerns. From June to August 2017, the FWC held six public meetings and stakeholder workshops in south Florida to solicit input on the development of the guidelines.

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.

Learn more about the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Plan at MyFWC.com/Imperiled.

FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski to move into a new arena of conservation service in 2018

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) congratulates Chairman Brian Yablonski on his new position as Executive Director of the Property and Environment Research Center, a national conservation research institute in Bozeman, Montana, focused on environmental entrepreneurship and market-based conservation. He will begin his new role in January 2018.

“On behalf of the state of Florida, we truly appreciate Brian’s service. His focus has helped make this a great place for families to live, work and enjoy the outdoors,” said Gov. Rick Scott. “I am confident Brian will continue to work to conserve our nation’s natural treasures. I wish him and his family all the best in this next endeavor.”

Yablonski began his service to the FWC in January 2004 and has held positions as vice chairman and chairman. He will continue to serve in his current role through the end of this year.

“I can think of no one better-suited for this important role with PERC,” said Nick Wiley, FWC Executive Director. “We know more great things are on the horizon for America’s fish and wildlife resources and habitats, and we cannot thank Chairman Yablonski enough for his leadership and conservation legacy with the FWC.”

Yablonski’s leadership on the Commission has been grounded in his attention to Florida’s diverse wildlife and unique habitats. In a state with over 20 million residents and 100 million visitors, he understood the importance of engaging landowners, anglers, hunters, sportsmen, wildlife and bird watchers, hikers, paddlers and recreational boaters while focusing on common ground.

During his 14 years at FWC, Yablonski worked to create new critical wildlife areas, provide landowners and citizens with more conservation incentives – including a constitutional amendment providing tax relief for conservation – and support freedoms and opportunities for current and future generations to enjoy Florida’s natural resources. In 2009, Yablonski was named Florida’s Wildlife Conservationist of the Year by the Florida Wildlife Federation, and in 2016 he was the recipient of Audubon Florida’s Theodore Roosevelt Award. 

“It has been a true lifetime honor and privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners and FWC staff, the best in the nation, as we’ve engaged with stakeholders, partners and residents on the important issues impacting wild Florida,” Yablonski said. “Florida has been my home for more than 25 years. Its great beauty, bountiful fish and wildlife resources, and good friends working in the stewardship arena, will always have a special place in my heart. To serve on behalf of our fish and wildlife in a state that served as an inspiration for Theodore Roosevelt has made all the difference. I will reflect fondly on our efforts and successes here in Florida as I engage in new and exciting ways to advance the cause of conservation.”

You can view the announcement from PERC at PERC.org. External Website

yablonski

Free Kids’ Fishing Clinic in Sarasota promises day of learning, fun

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzBWzfa External Website

Video available on the FWC’s YouTube site: http://youtu.be/KzOua12jMX8 External Website

Teaching children a lifelong hobby, instilling appreciation for our marine environment and providing fun, family outings are the objectives for the Kids’ Fishing Clinic in Sarasota on Nov. 18.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in conjunction with Florida Sea Grant will offer a free Kids’ Fishing Clinic for children between the ages of 5 and 15 from 9 a.m. to noon at Ken Thompson Park, 1700 Ken Thompson Parkway.

 These free clinics enable young people to learn the basics of conservation stewardship, fishing ethics, angling skills and safety. Kids’ Fishing Clinics strive to achieve several goals, but the main objective is to create responsible marine-resource stewards by teaching children about the vulnerability of Florida’s marine ecosystems. In addition, organizers hope to teach fundamental saltwater fishing skills and provide participants a positive fishing experience.

Fishing equipment and bait are provided for kids to use during the clinic, but organizers encourage children who own fishing tackle to bring it. A limited number of rods and reels will be given away to participants upon completion of the clinic.

If conditions allow, participants will have the opportunity to practice their new skills and fish from the pier. This event is a photo catch-and-release activity. An adult must accompany all participants.

Individuals or companies interested in helping sponsor this event or volunteering at the clinic should contact Armando Ubeda with Florida SeaGrant UF/IFAS Extension at 941-861-9900 or the FWC’s Elizabeth Winchester at 850-617-9644.

To find out more about fishing clinics for kids, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing, select the “Youth & Student” option under “Education,” and click on “Kids’ Fishing Clinics.”

 

Anglers on Florida’s east coast can help FWC gather red snapper data

Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are looking for anglers’ help to capture information about the Atlantic red snapper fishery.

The recreational season runs Nov. 3-5 and Nov. 10-12 in south Atlantic federal waters. Anglers are limited to one fish per person, per day, with no minimum size limit.

FWC researchers, law enforcement personnel and volunteers will be out along Florida’s east coast during each day of the season asking recreational fishers about their red snapper trips and their catch.

Researchers will also collect biological samples of harvested fish, which will not affect the fillet, to help determine the age of each red snapper.

Anglers are also encouraged to submit their catch information to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council External Website online at MyFishCount.com, even if information has already been submitted to FWC staff in person.

The survey responses and biological samples submitted by anglers will provide researchers valuable data about the red snapper fishery. The FWC will provide information collected to the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) External Website for the next red snapper stock assessment.

When anglers catch a tagged red snapper, FWC researchers ask that they report it to the Angler Tag Return Hotline: 800-367-4461. When calling the hotline, anglers should indicate the species, tag number, date and time of capture, catch location, fish length, type of bait used, and whether the fish was kept or released. If the fish is released, the angler is asked to leave the tag in place to help with future data collection.

Anglers are encouraged to use best handling practices on fish that are being released including descending devices or venting tools on fish that are experiencing barotrauma. Learn more about fish handling and gear at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”

For more information about red snapper sampling efforts, visit MyFWC.com/Research, click on “Saltwater” and select “Recreational Fisheries.” For information on snapper rules and regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing, and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and select “Snappers.”

 

Pledge to take someone hunting this fall

By Tony Young

The cooler weather and Thanksgiving holiday has many of us wanting to take to the woods and enjoy the opening of several hunting seasons. We often take for granted our ability to hike to our favorite hunting spot and enjoy a beautiful autumn day afield. But there are many men and women who served our country that don’t have that opportunity. That’s where Operation Outdoor Freedom External Website comes in.

The Florida Forest Service has been administering this wonderful program, which provides Florida’s wounded veterans, who are 30 percent or more disabled or have been awarded a Purple Heart, with opportunities to hunt, fish and participate in other outdoor activities. Since 2011, the FFS has hosted over 400 such events and provided outdoor opportunities to more than 3,000 vets.

“Our veterans have sacrificed their safety for our liberty, and Operation Outdoor Freedom is one small way we can demonstrate our gratitude,” said Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Providing our wounded veterans opportunities for recreation and rehabilitation in Florida's great outdoors is the least we can do for those who have done so much for us.” 

According to Randy Gregory, OOF coordinator for the Tallahassee and six-county surrounding area, most vets feel they can’t do much of what they once could do before their injuries, so these hunts can provide a sense of normalcy and healing for them.

“It feels really good to be able to help these heroes who gave so much of themselves to our country,” said Gregory. “These hunts let them see that they are able to get outdoors and once again participate in the activities they love. And for some, the program gives them their first hunting experience.”

Each year, OOF runs an average of 65 hunts throughout Florida on state forest land, providing opportunities for about 250 hunters annually. All a qualified vet must do to participate is register at OperationOutdoorFreedom.com, External Website and they may get drawn for a fully outfitted and guided hunt with meals and lodging provided.

Programs like this remind me of the hunting community’s giving spirit. We’re there to take someone hunting who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, while contributing to conservation with pride. Carry on that tradition this fall during the general gun season which runs Nov. 4 – Jan. 21 in Zone C, and Dec. 2 – Feb. 18 in Zone B. In Zone A, the second phase of general gun season is Nov. 18 – Jan. 7. In Zone D, the first phase always starts Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23) and lasts four days (until Nov. 26).

General gun season

During general gun season, only legal-to-take bucks as they are defined in each deer management unit may be harvested, but don’t forget that you need to purchase a $5 deer permit first. On private land, the daily bag limit on deer is two. Bag limits and other regulations for deer on wildlife management areas can differ, so before you hunt, download the specific WMA brochure by going to MyFWC.com/Hunting.    

You may hunt wild hogs on private lands year-round with no bag or size limits. Similarly, on most public lands there are no bag or size limits, and hogs are legal to take during most hunting seasons except spring turkey. On a few public hunting areas, specific bag and size limits do apply, so check the WMA brochure to be certain.

Hunters are allowed to take deer and wild hogs over feeding stations on private land, but that’s not the case on WMAs, no matter the season or the game.

It’s illegal to take deer using rimfire cartridges or non-expanding, full-metal case ammunition. Shooting a swimming deer also is against the law.

Private land doe days

Within the general gun season are antlerless deer days, better known to us hunters as “doe days.” These dates differ for each of the state’s 12 DMUs. To learn when these antlerless deer opportunities occur in your DMU, refer to the “2017-2018 Florida Hunting Regulations” handbook, which you can pick up at your tax collector’s office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regional office or by downloading it online at MyFWC.com/Hunting.

During these doe days, the daily bag limit is one legal antlered deer and one antlerless deer, or two legal antlered deer. Unlike archery season, you may not take two antlerless deer in one day, unless you have antlerless deer tags issued for the private land you hunt. Also, regardless of the season, deer gender or the number of permits, hunters are never allowed to harvest more than two deer per day under any circumstances. And except for a few, most WMAs do not have antlerless deer days.

Fall turkey and quail

Fall turkey season starts on the same date as general gun season in zones B, C and D but ends a little earlier. It runs from Dec. 2 – Jan. 28 in Zone B; Nov. 4 – Dec. 31 in Zone C; and Nov. 23-26 and Dec. 9 – Jan. 14 in Zone D. In Zone A, the second phase of fall turkey season is the same as the zone’s second phase of general gun: Nov. 18 – Jan. 7. Hunters may only take bearded turkeys and gobblers, and they must have a turkey permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents) to hunt them.

You may harvest up to two turkeys per day, if you’d like, but that would tag you out for the entire fall season – because you’re only allowed to harvest a total of two turkeys during the archery, crossbow, muzzleloading gun and fall turkey seasons combined. In Holmes County, the harvest of fall turkeys is not allowed at all. And there’s not a fall turkey season on WMAs, however, on a half-dozen areas, you are allowed to take turkeys during general gun season.

You’re not permitted to hunt turkeys with dogs or with recorded turkey calls, and you’re not permitted to shoot them while they’re on the roost or when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present.

The uproar a covey of bobwhite quail cause when suddenly taking to the air in front of a pointing bird dog is enough to thrill even the most seasoned veteran hunter. Quail season this year runs Nov. 11 – March 4, and the daily bag limit is 12. Bobwhites prefer a patchwork of brushy fence rows, weedy fields and open upland forests that are frequently burned. A good bird dog is essential in quail hunting and, for many hunters, watching the dog work and seeing its enjoyment is the most rewarding part.

Miscellaneous regulations

Shooting hours for deer, fall turkeys and quail are a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. All legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, bows, crossbows and handguns may be used to take each of these resident game animals during the general gun, fall turkey and quail seasons.

Illegal firearms and ammunition are defined as centerfire, semiautomatic rifles having magazine capacities of more than five rounds, and fully automatic firearms. Other prohibited methods for taking game include shooting from a moving vehicle and herding or driving game with a vehicle.

License and permit requirements

The first thing you’ll need to participate in one or more of these hunting opportunities is a Florida hunting license. Residents pay just $17. Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months.

If you want to hunt on a WMA, you also must purchase a management area permit for $26.50. And don’t forget to obtain the brochure on the WMA you’re going to hunt because dates, bag limits and rules differ greatly for each area. These are available online at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures.

All necessary licenses and permits are available at your tax collector’s office, retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing gear, by calling toll-free 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or by going online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. External Website

Happy hunting!

Whether you prefer small-game hunting with friends and family or hunting solo and going after that monster buck, boar hog or big tom, November brings loads of great hunting opportunities.

Here’s wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and a successful hunting season. Take someone hunting when you can. As always, have fun, hunt safely and ethically, and we’ll see you in the woods!

Florida manatees on the move, public stewardship on the water makes a difference

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: http://bit.ly/2eaNYTc External Website

People who remember in November to watch out for manatees as they begin migrating to warmer waters are making a difference in the species’ survival.

Florida is home to more than 6,600 manatees. With the arrival of Manatee Awareness Month, people again are slowing down and looking out for these large aquatic mammals in waterways throughout the state.

Many seasonal manatee protection zones go into effect Nov. 15. Though some signs identifying manatee zones may have been damaged by Hurricane Irma, information on manatee zone locations is also available online. If you see damaged waterway signs, report them at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Waterway Management,” “Waterway Markers” and then “Damaged/Missing Waterway Markers.”

Earlier this year, the Florida manatee was reclassified from endangered to a threatened status, under the federal Endangered Species Act, in a decision announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While this is a notable step, there is still work to be done to ensure continued progress toward recovery of our official state marine mammal.

“People’s efforts to help Florida manatees are working. Let’s celebrate the fact that conservation actions are making a difference and manatees are no longer endangered by thanking all the individuals and organizations that contributed to this milestone,” said Carol Knox, who leads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Imperiled Species Management Section.

“It’s important though to remain vigilant,” Knox said. “Let’s keep up the efforts that are helping with manatee recovery.”

How can people keep making a difference for manatees?

  • Watch for these large aquatic mammals as they search for warmer waters to help them survive winter’s cold, which they generally find in freshwater springs and the outflow of power plants.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to spot them moving, grazing and resting in the water. Keep a lookout for the circular “footprints” they leave on the surface of the water.
  • Slow down when boating and follow posted manatee zones.
  • Observe manatees from a distance to limit disturbance.
  • Report injured, entangled, orphaned or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on your cellphone or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
  • Continue to support the manatee decal and license plate, and tell everyone how the decal and license plate External Website support the FWC’s manatee conservation efforts.

Want to see a manatee? Go to MyFWC.com/Manatee and click on the link in the “Where Can I See Manatees?” box.

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