On November 16, 2016, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the staff recommendation to upgrade the status of the Florida burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia floridana) from Species of Special Concern to state Threatened on Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species List.
Specifically, the Commission approved Florida’s Imperiled Species Management Plan, which addresses the conservation needs for 57 species, including burrowing owls. This comprehensive plan marks the culmination of work on Florida’s imperiled species system dating back to 1994. The plan has been in development since 2012 and includes action plan summaries for each of the species as well as integrated conservation strategies addressing multiple species. This 10-year plan maximizes conservation through directed coordination, outreach, and management, with a focus on filling key data gaps to improve conservation and management.
Urban Bird Foundation applauds the Commission for this step to increase protections for the state’s burrowing owl population. During the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting, South Florida Audubon Society (SFAS) delivered Urban Bird Foundation’s support for upgrading Florida burrowing owls to Threatened status, our pledge of support and collaboration, and our endorsement of the SFAS burrowing owl conservation recommendations presented to the commissioners.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, they have stated the following in regards to the state’s burrowing owl:
Conservation status of the Florida burrowing owl is improved to a point that the species can be removed from Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species list and will not again need to be listed.
- Loss of native habitat and the resulting dependence on altered habitat.
- Lack of protected habitat, even for rural burrowing owls.
- Lure of potentially hazardous habitat, such as predevelopment activities (vegetation clearing) resulting in sites that mimic native habitat of the burrowing owl.
- Urban area threats, including vehicle collision, predation or injury by domestic animals, and burrow destruction by mowers or other equipment.
- Protect and manage habitat to support current population and to accommodate population growth.
- Minimize impacts of development and land-use conversion through Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines, outreach, and technical assistance.
- Ensure adequate protection of burrows through education, enforcement, and management.\
- Determine if one or more populations exist, and monitor population(s) to assess size and trend.