NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 28, 2005

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) recently approved new standards for identifying and protecting species. The new standards closely mirror those of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and rely on objective data instead of emotional public relations campaigns, says James A. Hoare in the Heartland Institute's Environment and Climate News.

  • The new standards consider Florida populations of species only and apply solely to applications of the Florida Endangered Species Act of 1976 and do not affect the federal Endangered Species Act.
  • A species will be listed as "endangered" if it is expected to lose 80 percent of its population within 10 years, is confined to 40 square miles or has 250 or fewer mature individuals; a species imperiled but to a lesser extent will be listed as "threatened" or "of special concern."

According to Florida Today, changes in how Florida classifies wildlife may ultimately mean a less politically charged label than "endangered" for the manatee and other species considered most likely to die out. Biologists say the new listing rules would lend more scientific credibility to how they determine how much protection the creatures need.

In addition, Florida Today says the state list, which is separate from the federal endangered species list, typically drives which Florida wildlife receives the most government attention and money.

"Clearly, this change is for the better," said Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. "Once a species is listed, the government allocates resources to protect the species and its habitat, and develops recovery plans. These plans affect private property. Before government starts restricting people's property, it should know to what extent a species is endangered. And that analysis involves numbers and hard counts. Government must know which species are more threatened and to what extent they are threatened."

Source: James A. Hoare, "Florida Adopts New Standards for Endangered Species Listings," Heartland Institute, Environment and Climate News, Volume 8, Number 6, July 1, 2005.


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