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Endangered birds may get new protections from FWC

November 15th, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida may soon nearly double the number of protected bird nesting areas along our shores. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will consider creating ten new bird sanctuaries at its meeting in St. Petersburg tomorrow, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the commission is reviving a decades old conservation practice with proven results.

Florida has 20 critical wildlife areas. Most were created in the 1970’s and 80’s. But as the population grew, bird nesting areas were mostly left behind. Until now.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will vote on creating ten new sanctuaries and expanding five existing locations. Both Regulators and conservationists  say this about the vote:

“This is a big deal” says the FWC. “This is pretty huge” was the response from Audubon Florida.

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Audubon calls the action long overdue, but something few will even notice. Julie Wraithmell  says the biggest change is how the public knows they are approaching one of these critical wildlife areas.

“What these will do is make it possible to post signs in the water around the islands, so people will be advised not to get close than that, so the birds will be able to nest successfully” says Wraithmell.

So if both conservationists and regulators agree this is a big deal, why has it taken decades for an expansion?

Kipp Frohlich is the FWC’s Deputy Director, Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “There has been a period of time here we did not use this conservation tool. I think it’s been a little bit rediscovered by this commission. they approved two the last few years and they’ve been very successful, and that caused them to think we need some more” says the wildlife expert.

While out of favor for a several decades, It is a tried and true method of protecting birds says Wraithmell. “These are very target, very modest protections, with a really big benefits.”

Invading the birds privacy in a critical wildlife area is a misdemeanor, but FWC says once established the regulations are almost universally obeyed.

Of the ten new critical wildlife areas, nine are for birds. One is for bats.

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