ESA in the News: Florida roundup
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission is revisiting -- again -- the way it categorizes species for special protection. The Orlando Sentinel reports that FWCC may use the same endangered and threatened designations that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service uses, or alternatively, a single threatened catch-all category. The new approach could avoid more controversy over how manatees are protected in Florida, although recent news reports show that manatees continue to expand their habitat, with one recently swimming to New England. See the Dennis Register and Reuters.
Manatee in Cape Cod waters, photo from turnto10.com news.
While manatees are trying to expand their habitat, Florida’s panthers are not so lucky. There are only 100 panthers left, and the typical male needs 200 square miles of habitat, but the development patterns in the state (at least before the real estate crash) have cornered the big cats, leading to more interactions between panthers, humans and pets. See Christian Science Monitor. As a result, Collier County and local environmentalists are wrestling with ways to improve long term legal protections for panther habitat, potentially including a critical habitat designation.
Then again, if local officials do pursue critical habitat designation for the panther, they could soon be appearing in federal court. After all, the subject of designation of critical habitat for the cape sable seaside sparrow has been in and out of court, too. Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity went back into court, and filed suit against FWS to challenge its recent revision of CSSS habitat. See Naples Daily News. See also related discussion in ESA blawg.