Biological Status Reviews and Recommendations - FAQs

May 2011

Contact: Pat Zick, 850-590-1345

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Background: The FWC adopted a new system in September 2010 for conserving and managing threatened species in Florida, which is a two-stage process. First, the new system required biological status reviews (BSRs) be completed on 61 of the state's threatened species and species of special concern (SSC) to determine if they should continue to be listed in Florida. The second stage requires that management plans be created for each state-listed species. The BSR reports and recommendations on listing status are completed and will be presented to the Commission June 8 in St. Augustine.

Why did the FWC create a new Threatened Species Management System?
The previous system for listing species had been controversial. Instead of concentrating on conserving species, many concentrated on what we called the species.

What was the process for making the listing determination?
Biological status review groups completed their findings in October and November 2010. Staff drafted a preliminary biological status report that included biological information, a literature review, the findings of the biological review groups, and a draft listing recommendation. Those reports were sent to at least three peer reviewers for each species. Using the preliminary BSRs and peer reviewer comments, staff finalized the reports and made final recommendations for listing status on 61 state-listed species, which will be presented to the Commission in June. The final BSRs are posted onlline at MyFWC.com/ImperiledSpecies.

Will the status recommendations go into effect immediately if the Commission approves staff recommendations?
No. Before the status of any species is changed, a management plan must be developed with public and stakeholder input and approved by the Commission. The entire process could take two to four years.

How many species received a biological status review (BSR)?
There are a total of 64 state-listed species in Florida. Sixty-one of these species received a BSR. Two (gopher tortoise and Miami blue butterfly) were reviewed against the listing criteria in the past decade and have not had improvements that would suggest the listing status would change. Both have management plans in place. The Panama City crayfish also received a recent review.

Why didn't any of the federally listed species receive a BSR?
Under the new threatened species management system, all 67 federally listed species in Florida are considered listed. A BSR by the state is not conducted because they undergo a federal review for listing.

What are the results of the BSRs?
Based on the BSR reports and peer review comments, 40 of the 61 species will be recommended by staff to be listed as threatened in Florida. Five species are being recommended to remain as SSC because of risks to the species and the need to obtain additional information, and 16 species have been recommended for removal from Florida's list.

Who were the members of the biological review groups?
The experts consisted of recognized species-specific experts from universities, other state agencies in the United States, federal agencies, including the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, independent consultants and wildlife contractors. The groups were appointed by the Commission, and consisted of an FWC lead and two to four external experts. There were approximately 49 external experts and 29 staff who participated in the 61 biological review groups.

Is there a chance the recommendations will change after the stakeholder meeting and before the Commission meeting in June?
While the FWC welcomes stakeholder and public comments and concerns prior to and during the meeting in June in St. Augustine, the current BSR reports and recommendations will be submitted as drafted as of April 2011. Staff is confident in the integrity and scientific merit of the current recommendations, which reflect a commitment to provide effective conservation to all species whether they remain listed or are removed.

Is the FWC accepting requests to evaluate species for listing?
At this time, the FWC is not accepting requests for listing actions. A two year moratorium was approved in September to allow staff and stakeholders time to develop management plans for the existing 62 state listed species that don't have a plan before working on additional species.

What was the goal of the biological status review?
The goal of the review is to determine if a species meets at least one of Florida's listing criteria. These listing criteria are designed to describe species with a high risk of extinction. Removal from Florida's threatened list represents a success story for the species. However, for this effort, there is a new process for evaluating species; some may not have qualified for listing in the past had the new listing criteria been applied.

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