FWC Looks To Create More Areas To Protect Vulnerable Wildlife From Human Disturbances

Apr 26, 2016

Florida wildlife officials are looking to create more sanctuaries across the state to protect vulnerable wildlife from everyday human disturbances during the most critical time in their lives.

There are currently 20 areas in the state designated as Critical Wildlife Areas, or CWAs. Some protect bats and gopher tortoises, but most manage different bird species. And, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's chairman Brian Yablonski says expanding to other areas is a great idea.

“Think the benefit of the Critical Wildlife Areas is they protect wildlife from human disturbances at the moment that’s most critical to their lifespan and that’s generally sort of this nesting season and these rookeries that they may not be here all year long—as you see, they come in and their sort of temporary,” he said, during April's meeting. “And, it’s real critical because the birds are skittish and the disturbances can cause them to flee.”

And, Kipp Frolich agrees. He's the FWC’s Deputy Director of habitat and species conservation.

“If you get too close to these islands and you disturb the birds, particularly at the most critical times, they can fly off the nest, they can dislodge eggs and break them, they can stay off the nest—therefore the temperature affects them,” he said. “So, you really want during critical times to minimize the disturbance.”

In the past, disturbances have included nature photographers getting too close to a nest or unleashed dogs frightening the birds, during critical periods of breeding, feeding, and migration.

FWC Commissioners are expected to have a more in-depth discussion about new CWA locations during their June meeting. They're also partnering with environmental groups, like Audubon of Florida and the Florida Wildlife Federation.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.