Historic note
 Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Species accounts
 Legal status of endangered and...

Group Title: Circular - University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences ; 485
Title: Florida's vanishing wildlife
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00067081/00001
 Material Information
Title: Florida's vanishing wildlife
Series Title: Circular Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Physical Description: v, 69 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hendry, Laurel Comella
Goodwin, Thomas M
Labisky, Ronald F
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Place of Publication: Gainsville Fla
Publication Date: 1980
Subject: Rare animals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Wildlife conservation -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: Laurel Comella Hendry, Thomas M. Goodwin, Ronald F. Labisky ; sketches by Thomas M. Goodwin.
General Note: "September, 1980."
Funding: Circular (Florida Cooperative Extension Service) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00067081
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 08602255
lccn - 80053008

Table of Contents
    Historic note
        Unnumbered ( 1 )
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Species accounts
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
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        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
    Legal status of endangered and potentially endangered species in Florida
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 71
Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

~I~I~)IL:'L'.L1 ~P~nllll

Circular 485
September, 1980





Sketches by

A cooperative publication of the Florida Cooperative Extension
Service, and the School of Forest Resources and Conservation,
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida,
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The authors: Laurel Comella Hendry is a Graduate Assistant in
the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of
Florida. Thomas M. Goodwin is Chief, Bureau of Wildlife
Resources, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission,
Tallahassee, Florida 32301. Ronald F. Labisky is Professor of
Fisheries and Wildlife, School of Forest Resources and Conser-
vation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611.

(Library of Congress Number 80-53008)


In the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the United States
Congress stated that:
"The purposes of this Act are to provide a means whereby
the ecosystems upon which endangered species and
threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a
program for the conservation of such endangered species
and threatened species, and to take such steps as may be
appropriate to achieve the purposes of... treaties and con-
ventions "
In recognizing the need to protect the ecosystem in which a
species exists and on which it depends, the Congress committed
the American people to a new era in environmental awareness,
understanding, and action.
Being aware of the fact that a particular plant or animal is in
danger of extinction, as for example the Caribbean Manatee, is
important. But, awareness in and of itself is not enough. We must
understand why this has occurred if we are going to be effective
in doing something about it. In the case of the Manatee and, in-
deed, in the case of most endangered and threatened species,
human activities have been the major cause.
We have failed to recognize the full implications of our ac-
tions on the environment. We must understand that we are
dependent on the same life-support systems as the Manatee and
other species. When we utilize our natural resources unwisely,
we are in the long run threatening our own existence as well as
the existence of all other life forms. We must understand the in-
terrelationships that exist within the complex ecosystems that
support life on this planet.
With sound understanding, our decisions can lead to more
enlightened action. We can achieve the "good life" and have
those economic and social values associated with the American
way without destroying our environment and all that depends on
it. Most importantly, our actions must be based upon under-
standing, and understanding is based on awareness.
This book contains the kind of information needed to
achieve awareness and understanding. It is up to each of us to
use this information in directing our own actions and in influenc-
ing environmentally responsible actions by others.

Robert S. Cook
Deputy Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
June 1980

The information and data assembled in this publication
were derived from published and unpublished sources, and
reflect much painstaking research by various persons
throughout Florida and the nation.
Thanks are due the following persons for generously shar-
ing technical advice and information on specific species:
Robert C. Belden, James R. Brady, Stephen A. Nesbitt, Paul E.
Moler, and Lovett E. Williams, Jr. (Florida Game and Fresh
Water Fish Commission); Carter R. Gilbert, Stephen R. Hum-
phrey, and Wayne R. Marion (University of Florida); James L.
Baker and Blair Irvine (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service); James A.
Kushlan (National Park Service); Herbert W. Kale, II (Florida
Audubon); Alexander Sprunt, IV (National Audubon Society); P.
Frank Lund (Atlantic Loggerhead Turtle Research); and Willard
D. Klimstra (Southern Illinois University).
The entire manuscript was critically reviewed by Stephen
R. Humphrey (University of Florida); Lovett E. Williams, Jr. and
Don A. Wood (Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commis-
sion); and David Peterson (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
Sebrina L. Street (University of Florida) painstakingly typed
the many versions of the manuscript. Joyce M. Lottinville
(University of Florida) prepared the range maps.
Gladney Davidson (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) en-
thusiastically supported the project.
The cost of publication was defrayed by the Office of Ex-
tension Education, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under Agree-
ment No. 14-16-004-79-916.

INTRODUCTION ......................... 1
SPECIES ACCOUNTS ..................... 5
Okaloosa Darter ........................ 6
Suwannee Bass ........................ 8
Pine Barrens Treefrog ................... 10
FloridaGopherFrog .................... 12
American Crocodile ..................... 14
American Alligator ...................... 16
Atlantic Green Turtle .................... 18
Atlantic Loggerhead Turtle ............... 20
Gopher Tortoise ........................ 22
Eastern Indigo Snake ................... 24
Eastern Brown Pelican .................. 26
W ood Stork ............................ 28
Bald Eagle ............................. 30
Everglade Kite ......................... 32
Audubon's Caracara .................... 34
Florida Sandhill Crane. .................. 36
RoseateSpoonbill ...................... 38
Lim pkin ............................... 40
White-crowned Pigeon .................. 42
Ivory-billed Woodpecker ................. 44
Red-cockaded Woodpecker .............. 46
Florida Scrub Jay ....................... 48
Dusky Seaside Sparrow. ................. 50
Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow ............. 52
Mangrove Fox Squirrel .................. 54
Key Largo Woodrat ..................... 56
Florida Black Bear ...................... 58
Florida Panther ........................ 60
Caribbean Manatee ..................... 62
Key Deer ................. .......... 64

"Early in the morning I was apprised...that an extraor-
dinary flock of birds was passing over... Hurrying out and
ascending the grassy ramparts, I was perfectly amazed to
behold the air filled and the sun obscured by millions of
[passenger] pigeons, not hovering about, but darting on-
wards in a straight line with arrowy flight, in a base mass a
mile or more in breadth, and stretching before and behind
as far as the eye could reach.
"Swiftly and steadily the column passed over with a
rushing sound, and four hours continued in undiminished
myriads advancing over the American forests in the eastern
horizon, as the myriads that had passed were lost in the
western sky.
"It was late in the afternoon before any decrease in the
mass was perceptible...
"The duration of this flight being about fourteen hours, viz.,
from four a.m. to six p.m., the column...could not have
been less than three hundred miles in length, with an
average breadth.. .of one mile."
W. Ross King,
The Sportsman and Naturalist
in Canada, 1866.

This single flight described by King was estimated at
about 4 billion pigeons. Yet, less than 40 years later the last
Passenger Pigeon in the wild fell to the ground before the bar-
rel of a young boy's gun in Sargents, Ohio, and the pigeon
joined the Labrador Duck and the Heath Hen in the ranks of
wildlife that have vanished since European man's arrival upon
this continent. Though these species disappeared before most
of us were born, the intervening years have failed to keep us
distant from the problem. Ten years ago, we may have heard
the last clattering calls of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the
river swamps of the south; today we may be seeing the last
Dusky Seaside Sparrow sing from his perch atop a marsh
grass stem; and in a matter of a few years, we may see the
Florida Panther that stalks the cypress swamps of the South
only in a roadside zoo.
Change, so simple a thought but so complex in actuality,
has led to the demise of many wild species. Man, an instru-
ment of change, has always and will probably forever tinker
with his environment to improve the quality of his life.
However, without care, a lowered quality of life for the in-
habitants of the earth the plants and the animals, as well as
man himself may be the cost.

The Florida landscape has undergone great changes since
the turn of the century, when the ringing of sledge hammers on
steel, like the new railroad tracks they gave rise to, pierced its
virtually untouched wilderness. On the heels of the track-layers
came myriads of settlers, in search of a better life in this land
of awesome pine forests and broad rivers of sawgrass. As man
set out to tame Florida with plow, axe, and gun, an untamable
element emerged the wildlife. As ancient forests were cut,
residents such as the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and Black Bear
retreated into a shrinking habitat of less than optimum quality.
As wetlands were drained, the once large populations of Wood
Storks and Everglade Kites saw their food source dry up. And
as trainload after trainload of alligator hides rolled out of
Florida bound for purse and shoe markets, the seemingly
endless population of the awesome reptile almost ceased to
The vast majority of Florida's endangered and threatened
species are those which cannot withstand uncompromising
changes made in their environments changes that are the
by-products of a technological society. As the dragline and
bulldozer are added to man's collection of taming tools, more
and more of the flora and fauna are fighting to keep their
foothold in Florida's much sought-after sand. But, wise deci-
sions in our growing economy can, as they have in the past,
prevent and minimize the harmful effects of technology.
Man's attempts to alleviate the myriad of problems besieg-
ing our wild flora and fauna are documented in a history of
legislation concerning natural resources in this country. Public
acknowledgment of a concern, and perhaps a responsibility,
for the vanishing wildlife in the United States first occurred in
1903, when Congress established the nation's first
refuge the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge as a
haven for the Eastern Brown Pelican in Florida. The Bald Eagle
Protection Act of 1940 prohibited the killing of our national
bird. The national park, preserve, and refuge systems, which
now encompass about 50 million acres, were developed in the
past 75 years. With such legislation came an increasing
awareness of the fate of many wildlife species. The upshot
was the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973. This
Act provided for the classification of wildlife species as "en-
dangered" or "threatened", and mandated legal protection for
species so listed. In justification for such protection, the Act
states that various species of fish, wildlife, and plants have
aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, and scientific
The passage of the 1973 Act has not eliminated our pro-
blems in dealing with the natural environment. Instead, as

more species come in need of legal protection, value con-
troversies between man and wildlife arise. There are no simple
solutions. No single law can apply in all cases, and our task of
weighing each aspect of human activity against each wild
community is burdensome at best. In south Florida, the con-
struction of a jetport was halted when its threat to the
Everglades ecosystem appeared to outweigh the benefits of an
improved transportation system. In Tennessee, after months of
debate, the construction of the Tellico Dam was resumed after
legislators determined its benefits tipped the scales against
the need for maintaining the river habitat of a tiny endangered
fish, the Snail Darter. Such decisions, though forceful, do not
erase the doubt of whether, in truth, all the aspects were
analyzed and the right judgment was delivered; perhaps our
only solace lies in accepting the responsibility to make these
decisions with dedication to both causes, and to learn from
these decisions.
This publication is designed to introduce readers to the
endangered species concept, and to familiarize them with
some of the vanishing wildlife of Florida. A further objective is
to make readers aware of the special problems faced by state
and federal biologists, as well as the citizens of Florida, in
conserving and managing the wildlife of the state and nation.
The 30 species (or subspecies) of fish, amphibians, reptiles,
birds, and mammals included in this report were selected
because they are most likely to be observed, they have an im-
pact on our existence, or they have a particularly interesting or
unique life history.
Both the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
(GFWFC) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
(USFWS) have systems for classifying endangered and
threatened species. These classifications often vary for the
same species, particularly if that species is found outside of
Florida. A complete listing of the vanishing species of Florida,
and their classification by the GFWFC and the USFWS, is
presented at the back of this booklet. The 30 species
presented in the text are arranged taxonomically and have
been designated by the GFWFC as follows:

ENDANGERED A species, subspecies, or isolated
population that is, or soon may be, in immediate danger of ex-
tinction unless the species or its habitat is fully protected and
managed for its survival.
THREATENED A species, subspecies, or isolated
population that is very likely to become endangered in the near
future unless the species or its habitat is fully protected and
managed for its survival.

subspecies, or isolated population that warrants special pro-
tection because: it may, due to pending degradation or human
disturbance, become threatened unless protective manage-
ment strategies are employed; it cannot be classified as
threatened until its status is more fully understood; it occupies
such an essential ecological position that its decline might
adversely affect associated species; or it has not sufficiently
recovered from a past decline in abundance.
More extensive information on these and other en-
dangered and threatened vertebrate and plant species of
Florida is given in a 5-volume treatise entitled Rare and En-
dangered Biota of Florida, published in 1978. These volumes
are available through the University Presses of Florida,
Gainesville, 32611.


Okaloosa Darter, a species
unique to Florida, may face
extinction in the near future.
Presently, the population
numbers 1,500-10,000.


The Okaloosa Darter is a 2-inch-long (5 cm) member of
the perch family. Its slender body is medium to dark brown
with darker speckling. The darter has a rounded tail and a
double, or divided, dorsal fin.


The Okaloosa Darter, a stream dweller, feeds primarily
on midge and mayfly larvae. Spawning occurs throughout
most of the year, with peaks in April and October. Eggs are
laid singly or in small groups on aquatic plants.


The Okaloosa Darter is found only in 7 small streams,
all of which originate on Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa
County. These clear, shallow streams, usually less than 3
feet (91 cm) in depth, have moderate to swift currents, clean
sandy bottoms, and patchy vegetation.


This species has an extremely limited range, and therefore, the
entire population is vulnerable to any environmental problems that
develop in this habitat. If the land surrounding the darter's habitat is
altered by development, the quality and quantity of the habitat would
be lost, and inevitably, the darter would be lost also. Fortunately, most
of the Okaloosa Darter's range is located on government-owned land.
In fact, until the introduction by man of the Brown Darter, a com-
petitive species, the Okaloosa Darter displayed a healthy, stable
population. Now it appears that the Okaloosa Darter is in danger of
being outcompeted by the rapidly spreading Brown Darter.


The ideal protection for the Okaloosa Darter would probably be
complete removal of the Brown Darter from its habitat. Such a
removal program, however, would be very expensive and perhaps im-
practical. If the man-made pressure on the Okaloosa Darter, specifical-
ly habitat destruction, can be alleviated, it may be better able to com-
pete successfully with other stream inhabitats. Further study of the
life histories of both darter species is needed to help formulate
management techniques that would enhance the survival of the
Okaloosa Darter.


CERN. The Suwannee Bass
presently has a stable, but
localized, population in


The Suwannee Bass is a small, rather slender bass,
measuring at maximum about 14 inches (36 cm) in length
and weighing 1.7 pounds (771 g). Juvenile bass are light in
color with thin, vertical stripes, whereas mature bass exhibit
dark and blotchy coloration. The mouth of the adult Suwan-
nee Bass, which extends only to the posterior margin of the
eye, is somewhat smaller than that of the related Large-
mouth Bass.


Suwannee Bass spawn at least once a year, with the
spawning season beginning as early as February and exten-
ding through June. Mature females produce an average of
about 5,500 eggs during each spawning season; however, all
eggs do not ripen at the same time.
Crayfish, other fish, and freshwater shrimp comprise the
bulk of the bass' diet.




The Suwannee Bass is found primarily in swift, usually clear,
spring-fed streams with limestone bottoms, where the water is cool
and highly alkaline. In Florida, Suwannee Bass populations are
restricted to the river systems of the Suwannee, Santa Fe,
Ichetucknee, and Ochlockonee. Within these river systems the bass is
fairly common.

The Suwannee Bass is not actually suffering a decline in abun-
dance. It has been given the status of species of special concern
because of its highly restricted range. Because the bass is limited to
so few river systems, survival of the entire Suwannee Bass population
is vulnerable to any factor that adversely affects these streams.

At this time, the ecological conditions of the river systems in-
habited by the Suwannee Bass are good. However, proposed develop-
ment of these systems poses a threat to the future of this species.
Any dredging, channeling, or polluting of river systems inhabited by
this species would be detrimental. The state of Florida has acquired
the Ichetucknee Springs area for
recreational use, but it may serve
also as a protected habitat for the
Suwannee Bass. Additional
habitat acquisitions within the
range of the species would be
beneficial. Continued research,
experimentation in propagation
techniques, and environmentally
sound land-use planning are
steps that will best safeguard the
future of the Suwannee Bass.



ENDANGERED. However, re
cent studies are revealing
that the Pine Barrens
Treefrog is considerably
more abundant than it was
thought to be when it was
Originally classified as en-

-I The Pine Barrens Treefrog is bright green dorsally, with
j yellow-bordered, lavender side stripes. The abdomen is
white, and the inner surfaces of the legs are spotted with
." ll orange. This species measures 1.2-1.8 inches (30-46 mm) in
Length. The adult female is slightly larger than the male, and
bears a lighter colored throat. Both sexes have large, round,
I .l adhesive toe pads; this feature, characteristic of treefrogs, is
an aid in climbing. Tadpoles of this species grow to 1.5
Inches (38 mm) in length, and are olive-green with black

Male Pine Barrens Treefrogs begin calling in April,
Broadcasting their locations nightly by nasal honks repeated
at a rate of about 75 per minute. Breeding and egg-laying,
S which follow the calling, often extends into August. The
eggs are laid in the water in small batches (less than 10 per
B *, batch) by the female, until a total of about 200 eggs have
S been laid; after each batch is laid, it is fertilized by the male.
'. The tiny tadpoles hatch after approximately 3 days. Tad-
poles develop into treefrogs by the fall of the same year, and
may breed the following spring. The tadpoles fall prey to a
-: variety of aquatic species, including sunfish, salamanders,
amphiuma, and other frogs. Predators of the adults include
S snakes and birds.

Pine Barrens Treefrogs are herbivorous (plant eaters) as tadpoles,
but become insectivorous (insect eaters) as adults.

The Pine Barrens Treefrog was first found in Florida in 1970, in-
habiting the hillside seepage bogs associated with a few small
streams in the northern part of the state. Breeding occurs in small
acidic pools on these boggy hillsides. In Florida this treefrog is found
in Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Holmes counties. Other isolated
populations occur in North and South Carolina, New Jersey, and

Destruction of this treefrog's highly specific habitat, through land
development, has led to a decline in its abundance.
Although the present range of this species is often plagued by
drought, this treefrog requires wet conditions for successful reproduc-
tion. Thus, this species may be a relict of an earlier time, possibly the
Pleistocene period, when the climate was milder and wetter, and
therefore more conducive to its breeding habits.

The Pine Barrens Treefrog is
now under complete legal protec-
tion from collection (without
special permit). Although the
species does not appear to be as
rare as once thought and may be
removed from the endangered list
in the near future, preservation of
its sensitive habitat is needed to 1
insure its survival.

CERN. The Florida Gopher
Frog, unique to southern
Georgia and Florida, relies
heavily on the Gopher Tor-
toise, also a species of
special concern, for survive
As the habitat of the Goph
Tortoise is lost to land
development, the survival
both the tortoise and the
Gopher Frog is placed in


The Florida Gopher Frog is often referred to as the
"white frog", because of its overall creamy-white
background coloration. Its back is either smooth or slightly
warty, with irregular dark brown to black spots. The adult
male differs from the female by the presence of yellow on
the backridges, armpits, and groin. The male also has vocal
pouches which, when inflated, nearly double the size of the
frog's head. Both males and females are plump, large-
headed, short-legged frogs, which average 3-4 inches (8-10
cm) in length. The voice of the male is described as a deep,
roaring "snore."


The Gopher Frog, whose name is owed to its associa-
tion with the Gopher Tortoise, inhabits the underground bur
rows excavated by the Gopher Tortoise. This relationship
Benefits the frog and has no known effects on the tortoise.
The Gopher Frog, as all amphibians, relies on moist, glan-
dular skin for gas exchange (to obtain oxygen for life func-
-, tions). Loss of moistness inhibits this critical gas exchange

In the harsh, hot, daytime environment, the dangers of drying out are
very real. To safeguard against this, the Gopher Frog is active at night
and spends the hot, daytime hours in the moist, cool, underground
The breeding season extends from early spring through late fall.
During this period, the otherwise solitary Gopher Frogs congregate in
select, shallow, grassy ponds to breed. Active breeding often coin-
cides with periods of heavy rainfall.
The prey of the Gopher Frog includes the small Oak Toad and a
wide variety of insects.


The habitat of the Florida Gopher Frog largely coincides with that
of the Gopher Tortoise, consisting mainly of sandy pine and scrub oak
ridges in Florida and southern Georgia.


Presently, the Florida Gopher Frog population is stable; however,
it may be undergoing a slow decline. Because of its dependence upon
the Gopher Tortoise, this frog is highly vulnerable to any factors that
threaten the tortoise population. There is also some evidence that the
Gopher Frog population is under the additional pressure of being ex-
ploited for human consumption.


Laws that would protect the
Gopher Tortoise from over-harvest
and habitat degradation probably
would be the best assurance of
future survival for the Gopher
Frog. Further harvesting of the
Gopher Frog for food should be
discontinued if the practice is
proved harmful to the Gopher
Frog population. I

ENDANGERED. An estimated 200-400 American Crocodiles
presently exist in Florida; however, only about 20 of these
are breeding females.

Often confused with the American Alligator, the
American Crocodile is a large reptile with a rough-scaled,
dark gray-brown back and a smooth-scaled, light-colored bel
Sly and throat. The snout of the crocodile, unlike that of the
alligator, is long and tapered, and the fourth tooth on each
Ml '. side of its lower jaw is exposed when the mouth is closed.
0 Adult crocodiles average 6-12 feet (2-4 m) in length.

Crocodile nests are low mounds of excavated soil,
which measure up to 2 feet (61 cm) in height and 20 feet (6
m) in diameter. With the onset of the breeding season in
April, old nests are repaired or new nests built in
preparation for the 20-60 eggs that the female will deposit a
j few weeks later. The female crocodile buries her eggs and
leaves the nest unattended until the time of hatching, which
occurs in July or August. At this time, she will return to dig
out the hatchlings. The failure of eggs to hatch can be at-
Stributed most often to predation by raccoons or to low nest
w temperatures which hinder incubation. After hatching, young
1 crocodiles are independent, and are believed to inhabit
shallow, mangrove-protected areas during their early life.
Crocodiles excavate and maintain dens similar to those
,l*f alligators.

Young crocodiles feed upon a wide array of aquatic organisms,
whereas the adult diet consists predominantly of fish.

In this state, the American Crocodile is limited to the salt- and
brackish-water marshes and mangrove swamps of extreme southern
Florida and the Keys. At present they are found only along Florida's
southeastern coast, with Broward County serving as the northern
boundary of their distribution. Their previous range extended coastally
nearly as far north as West Palm Beach.

The "hide-hunters" of the early 1900's destroyed a large propor-
tion of the crocodile population. The more recent destruction of the
crocodile's salt marsh habitat by real estate developers has prevented
any significant recovery in crocodile numbers.

The American Crocodile has existed under the legal protection of
the state of Florida since 1950. Federal protection for the crocodile
has been in effect since 1975, when it was added to the federal en-
dangered species list. The majority of the remaining crocodiles are
found within the protective boundaries of the Everglades National
Park. To date, legal protection is
the only management measure af-
forded the crocodile. The outlook
for this species is poor, as its
population may have reached the
critical "point of no return." Ac-
quisition and protection of areas
where crocodiles exist, such as
northern Key Largo, are urgently
needed. It is hoped that con-
tinued research into this reptile's
life history will yield profitable -
management strategies.


no SPECIES OF SPECIAL CONCERN. The American Alligator, al
one time thought to be in danger of extinction in Florida, is
difficult to inventory. The population probably numbers over

i The American Alligator is a large, gray-black, long-tailed
It reptile. Heavy, rough scales cover the back and neck of this
species, while lighter-colored, smooth-scaled skin, the prize
of alligator hunters, covers the belly. The broad, rounded
snout of the American Alligator distinguishes it from the
M sharper-nosed American Crocodile. The largest alligator on
record measured 19 feet-2 inches (5.8 m) in length; the
J average adult length ranges from 6-12 feet (2-4 m).
Like all reptiles, alligators are cold-blooded. They are
generally inactive during cool winter months, and frequently
3Z bask in the sun along shorelines on cool days.
The male alligator is somewhat territorial during the
mating season which, in Florida, begins in March. His loca-
l tion is advertised to the females in the area by his loud deep
bellowing and possibly by the emission of scent from two
Smusk glands on his lower jaw. Nests, which the female con-
'structs from decaying vegetation, are 5-7 feet (152-213 cm) in
diameter. The female deposits about 35 eggs in the nest dur-
J ing June or July. The eggs are incubated by the warmth
Created as the nest vegetation decays. After 60-65 days of in-
cubation, the black and yellow-banded, 9-inch-long (23 cm)
Young hatch. Raccoons are the primary predators of alligator
7" eggs and hatchlings.

Adult alligators excavate caves in the banks of rivers and lakes,
as well as inland depressions (called "gator holes"). These holes
serve many marsh inhabitants in addition to the alligator by providing
both water and a food source during severe droughts.
Young alligators feed on crustaceans, insects, and molluscs, and
gradually shift to the adult diet of fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Alligators inhabit a variety of wetland areas, including freshwater
swamps, ponds, rivers, and brackish or saltwater marshes and bays.
This species adapts well to urbanization, and will often take up
residence in ponds and pools in residential areas. American Alligators
exist throughout Florida, north to North Carolina and west into Texas.

The decline of the American Alligator in Florida began in the
1870s, when the soft belly skin of this reptile became commercially
popular. Between that time and the late 1960's, an estimated 10
million alligators were killed in this country. Habitat destruction by
land developers compounded the losses experienced by the popula-

Legal protection for the alligator in Florida began in 1969. It was
listed as "endangered" in 1973, but was subsequently reclassified as
"threatened" in 1977. and then as a "species of special concern" in
1979. These changes in classification were triggered by substantial
gains in abundance that occurred while the species was under com-
plete legal protection.
Currently, the problem with / -
the species may be one of too .
many animals rather than of too
few. To alleviate potential pro-
blems between "gators" and
humans, the Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission -
has instigated a program for
removal of nuisance animals.
Strategies for maintaining the
American Alligator at acceptable --
levels of abundance in Florida are
priority research and manage-
ment programming goals.

going nature of this turtle
makes estimation of its
Numbers difficult. Recent
studies suggest that only
I about 50 Green Turtles ne:
Annually in Florida.


This large, brown sea turtle commonly weighs 250-285
Pounds (113-129 kg) when mature, and its heart-shaped,
."UJ plated shell measures 30-42 inches (76-107 cm). Its head and
.11. broad flipper-like limbs are scaled and are brown to gray.
The male's shell is slightly more tapered than the female's
and the male's tail is longer than that of the female. The
name "Green Turtle" is derived from the greenish color of it!
Body fat.


Green Turtles begin to breed at 8-10 years of age.
Mating takes place at sea, at intervals of 2-3 years. From
..l May-August, females journey to sandy beaches to nest,
usually crawling ashore at night. Using her flippers to scoop
: out the sand, the female digs a hole into which she deposits
About 130 spherical white eggs. After covering the eggs with
sand, the female returns to the water, but may emerge 1-8
S times more during the season to nest again on the same
.. beach.

After 55 days of incubation under the sand, the 1.2-1.5-inch-long
(30-38 mm) young hatch, and as a group dig upward and out of the
nest cavity. The young usually emerge at dark at the beach surface to
avoid hot, daytime temperatures, and immediately crawl into the
water. Eggs and hatchlings fall prey to raccoons, dogs, and gulls. Man
is the major predator of adults, using the meat for food.
Green Turtles float far out to sea as yearlings, but inhabit coastal
waters as adults. As adults they may travel distances of a 1000 miles
(1613 km) or more between nesting beaches and feeding areas. Hat-
chling turtles probably float and feed on rafts of seaweed, whereas
adults dive to feed on plants in the shallow, grassy flats near the


Green Turtles have been reported from nearly all portions of
Florida's Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Nesting, however, is limited
primarily to the Atlantic coast between Cape Canaveral and Palm


Over-harvesting of the Green Turtle for its meat and eggs has led
to the near-extinction of this species.


The outlook for this species
in Florida is poor, despite legal
protection and management ef-
forts. Stricter enforcement of pro-
tective laws, control of interna-
tional trade of Green Turtle pro-
ducts, and continued research for
enhancement of management
strategies are urgent. Nesting range

,t '

THREATENED. About 90% of
|- S3 the 25,000-50,000 Loggerhea<
C Turtles in the United States
C. inhabit the coastal waters of

SThe reddish-brown coloration of this large-headed turtle
distinguishes it from all other sea turtles in the United
States. Its shell, flippers, and head are plated. The adult
JLU shell is somewhat elongated and usually measures 31-45
Inches (79-114 cm). The male has a somewhat longer tail and
narrower shell than the female. Mature Loggerheads com-
only weigh 170-350 pounds (77-159 kg); however,
specimens weighing 700-1000 pounds (317-454 kg) and
UU measuring 4 feet (122 cm) or more in length have been
reported. Hatchling Loggerheads have brownish, heart-
shaped shells about 2 inches (5 cm) in length.

IIn Florida, female Loggerheads nest from May-
September, crawling ashore on sandy beaches after mating
at sea. Each female may have a number of exploratory night-
j ly excursions, or false crawls, to the beach before an actual
nest site is selected. Nests are cavities in the sand, 18-26 in-
ches (46-66 cm) deep and 10 inches (25 cm) wide. The female
uses her hind limbs as shovels to dig the nest cavity. Most
Z nests are placed between the high tide line and dune front
of undisturbed beaches. The female deposits about 120
Q white leathery shelled eggs, covers them with sand, and
then returns to sea. She may nest 2-4 times during the
season on the same beach, laying fewer eggs with each
to subsequent nesting. Females probably breed only every
other year, or perhaps every third year; the females usually
return to the same beach for nesting each time.

The eggs incubate for 31-65 days under the sun-warmed sand.
During this time, eggs may be dug out and eaten by raccoons, dogs,
and, in some parts of the world, man. Just prior to hatching, the young
turtle develops a sharp, horny egg tooth on the top of its snout, used
for pipping the egg. The hatchlings are nourished by the egg yolk dur-
ing the 2-3 days it takes them to dig out of the nest. They usually ap-
pear on the surface at night and immediately crawl into the ocean
where many fall prey to gulls and fish.
Loggerheads are omnivorous, consuming crabs, shellfish,
sponges, jelly fish, seaweed, and turtle grass.

Loggerhead Turtles inhabit temperate and subtropical waters
throughout the world. Their range in North America extends north to
New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces, and south into
the Caribbean. Worldwide, they are found in Argentina, South Africa,
and Australia. Major nesting beaches in the United States are located
in Florida between Cape Canaveral and Palm Beach on the Atlantic
coast, and from the panhandle south to Cape Sable on the Gulf Coast.

As is typical of many species, the Loggerhead's population
decline is directly related to nesting habitat loss. Development and
resultant erosion have altered or destroyed many historic Loggerhead
nesting beaches. Bright lighting of beaches, which disorients the
turtles, and human disturbances of nesting turtles, in part, account for
reproductive failures. Accidental turtle drownings in fishing and shrim-
ping nets compound population losses.

The establishment of legal
protection for the Loggerhead
that would restrict disruptive
human use of nesting beaches is
of primary importance. It is hoped
that continued research into the
life history of the Loggerhead can
provide answers needed to for-
mulate management techniques Nesting Ranwq
that will safeguard the turtle from
reaching a more critical status in
the future. "' -

II e jI


CERN. Although at present
the Florida population of
Gopher Tortoises is not
critically low (a 1973
estimate yielded 1.3 million
this reptile has disappeared
from numerous areas where
it was once common. These
recent losses have
stimulated concern for the
future of this ancient

The Gopher Tortoise is distinctive among southern
turtles, with its oblong shell, large head, and thick, stubby
limbs. The shell color varies from dull, light-brown or brown-
black above to yellow below. An adult length of 6-10 inches
(15-25 cm) and weight of 9-10 pounds (4.0-4.5 kg) is average;
however, tortoises as long as 14.5 inches (36.8 cm) have
been reported. The sexes are similar in appearance.

The Gopher Tortoise is a slow-moving, terrestrial reptile.
Essentially herbivorous as an adult, the tortoise grazes for
many hours each day on grasses, herbs, fallen leaves, fruit,
and berries.
A unique aspect of the life history of the Gopher Tor-
toise is its ecological need for underground burrows, which
serve to protect it from the harsh, hot, dry environment. The
tortoise is equipped with spade-like forelimbs, well adapted
for excavating these burrows. After their first year, which is
usually spent in the burrows of adults or buried beneath the
sand, young tortoises will select a burrow site on a dry,
sandy ridge. The length and depth of the burrow, which is
usually occupied by a single tortoise, varies according to
soil moisture and texture. Burrow lengths of 30 feet (9 m)
and depths of 12 feet (4 m) have been reported.

Gopher Tortoises do not breed until 10-15 years of age. Nesting
occurs from April-July. At this time, the mature female tortoise ex-
cavates a 6-inch-deep (15 cm) hole near or in the sand mound at the
entrance to her burrow. In this hole the female lays 4-7 eggs, which
are buried and left to incubate under the sun-warmed sand. The 2-inch
(5 cm) young hatch after approximately 65 days of incubation. Snakes
that take refuge in the burrows, as well as mammalian predators, feed
on the eggs and young of the Gopher Tortoise.

Optimum Gopher Tortoise habitat exists in areas of dry, well-
drained soils with abundant, low vegetation. In Florida, Gopher Tor-
toises inhabit pine flatwoods, pine-oak sandhills, sand pine scrub, oak
hammocks, old fields, and beach scrub ecosystems. Their range in-
cludes areas in south and west Florida, and extends northward to
South Carolina and westward to Louisiana.

At one time Gopher Tortoises were hunted intensively for food.
Although less frequent now, hunting still accounts for some losses.
More immediate to the recent decline of the Gopher Tortoise popula-
tion, however, is the increasing loss of habitat. The upland areas in-
habited by the tortoise are prime targets for real estate and
agricultural development.

A 1909 law made the capture
or sale of Gopher Tortoises illegal
from May-August that period
which coincides with their
breeding season. It also pro-
hibited the taking of tortoises
with a shell length of less than 9
inches (23 cm), which was meant
to help insure survival to breeding
age. Continued research into the -
ecology of the Gopher Tortoise,
and the approximately 3 dozen in- -
vertebrate and vertebrate species
that share its burrows, is needed
to insure that appropriate
management strategies for these
species are included in future
land-use plans.





Z The Eastern Indigo Snake, the largest snake in Florida,
is a heavy-bodied, glossy, blue-black reptile. The chin and
sides of the head are commonly tinged with a reddish or
orange-brown coloring. Adults average 60-84 inches (152-213
O cm) in length; the largest reported specimen of this species
measured 103.5 inches (262.9 cm). Young Indigo Snakes,
which are lightly speckled, average 14-24 inches (36-61 cm)
in length upon hatching.

-1 Indigo Snakes mate from November-February. The large,
white, leathery-shelled eggs, usually numbering 6-12, are laid
Z under logs, leaf litter, or in Gopher Tortoise burrows in April
Sor May. The eggs hatch after 90 days of incubation. Young
Indigos grow rapidly, and may attain a length in excess of 48
j.1 inches (122 cm) during their first year. They reach maturity at
2-3 years. Indigos can produce fertile eggs up to 41/2 years
1"EM after a single mating. Man is perhaps the adult Indigo's only
predator. The eggs and young, however, fall prey to skunks,
raccoons, and other snakes.
ing the cooler hours of the day, feeding on a wide array of
.mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles.

Indigos, valued by pet dealers and snake fanciers for their sup-
posed gentle disposition, in actuality can be quite hostile. Males
engage in combat quite frequently, and are sometimes cannibalistic.
Males and females, when threatened, flatten their necks vertically,
hiss aggressively, and often strike.

The Eastern Indigo Snake is found in both the dry pinelands and
moist subtropical hammocks of the extreme southeastern United
States. In dry areas, this species relies upon the cool, damp shelter of
Gopher Tortoise burrows or other underground hollows to avoid drying
out. At one time, the Eastern Indigo's range included all of the Florida
peninsula, north to Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississip-
pi. In contrast to past years, the Indigo's range and abundance are
considerably more restricted, with highest numbers probably occur-
ring in Florida.

Excessive collecting by snake fanciers has led to the disap-
pearance of this species in many areas. In areas where the Indigo
utilizes Gopher Tortoise burrows, factors which limit the tortoise may
also limit the Indigo Snake. A technique of rattlesnake hunting, which
involved pouring gasoline into tortoise burrows, previously took a
heavy toll on Indigo Snakes; this practice, however, became illegal in

In Florida, the Indigo Snake '
is legally protected from collec-
tion and molestation. More
stringent enforcement of this law
is needed, as is the protection of
the Indigo's habitat. Continued /
protection of the Gopher Tortoise,
whose burrows may be necessary
to Indigo survival in many areas,
will also benefit this snake.

THREATENED. Although fa
ly common in Florida, with
an estimated population in
excess of 25,000, the Easte
SBrown Pelican is consider
threatened. This classifica-
tion is warranted because c
the low abundance of the
bird in portions of its range
I outside of Florida. There is
no "safety in numbers" for
this bird; man's introduction
of pesticides into the en-
vironment led to the recent
extermination of the sizable
population of Eastern Browi
Pelicans in Louisiana.


The Eastern Brown Pelican is distinct among Florida
birds, possessing a long bill equipped with a large pouch ex
tending from the lower jaw. The plumage of the adult is
gray-brown on the back and wings, and white or yellow on
the head. Immature pelicans are brownish dorsally, with
white underparts; they do not acquire adult plumage until 3-!
years of age. Full-grown Brown Pelicans range in length
from 45-54 inches (114-137 cm), with the female being slight-
ly smaller than the male.


The Brown Pelican utilizes a highly specialized mode of
feeding that is both unique and efficient. The pelican flies
over the water to locate schools of fish. Once the prey is
sighted below, the pelican closes its wings and dives into
the water, often from great heights. Upon impact, the
pelican's pouch will open and fill with fish and water. The
water is expelled as the bird closes its bill and rights itself
to float duck-like on the surface. Although the pelican ap-
pears awkward and even comical in its diving, the bird is a
capable "fisherman".

Brown Pelicans are colonial nesters, congregating in large
numbers on small islands. The male and female share in nest
building, incubation, and caring for the young. Usually 3 eggs are laid
per nest, with the featherless young hatching after about 30 days of
incubation. The young weigh 2-3 oz (42-85 g) upon hatching. Young
birds leave the nest after 74-77 days. A sizable proportion of the young
die their first year of life, principally because of heavy predation and
the young bird's ineptness in fishing.

The Eastern Brown Pelican feeds primarily in shallow, coastal
waters, rarely venturing more than 40 miles (65 km) out to sea.
Although most pelicans loaf and roost on sand bars, some become
common loiterers on fishing piers, where they tolerate human activity
in exchange for fish scraps and other handouts. The Brown Pelican is
fairly well distributed along both coasts of Florida and throughout the
Florida Keys.

The Brown Pelican can serve as a reminder of man's destruction
of one life form, pest insects, at the expense, however inadvertent, of
another. Heavy past use of pesticides, specifically Endrin, led to the
near extinction of the Brown Pelican on the northern Gulf coast. The
lowered reproductive success of some birds has been linked to human
disturbance of nesting sites.

In Florida, the Brown Pelican
population is stable, and may
even be increasing. However, pro-
tection is still necessary
- especially in other states
where population levels are low.
A program of restocking Loui-
siana with Brown Pelicans from ,
Florida is underway, and has, L
thus far, been successful. Public
awareness of the pelican's recent
battle against extinction due to
pesticide contamination may
alleviate future pressures of this
type on this species. It may also L--
prevent a repeat of these fateful ...
events for other wildlife species.

10,000 Wood Storks inhab
Florida at present. Popula
tions of unknown size als(
occur in South and Centra
America and Mexico.


The Wood Stork is often called "Iron-head" or "Flint-
head", alluding to its gray-black featherless head and its
stout bill, which is 6-9 inches (15-23 cm) long. This white,
long-legged stork stands about 42 inches (107 cm) in height
and weighs about 11 pounds (5 kg). Both the tail and trailing
edge of the Wood Stork's wing are distinctively black. Im-
mature birds resemble the adults, but have a lighter-colored
head. The Wood Stork flies with both legs and neck out-


Wood Storks utilize a special, tactile method of locating
food, known as grope-feeding: as the stork probes with its
beak in shallow water, the small fish that come in contact
with the partially open beak are captured.
Wood Storks are colonial in nesting, feeding, and
roosting. Nests are located in cypress or mangroves, often
100 feet (30 m) above ground, and are in use from November.
April. The nests, constructed of sticks and vines, are lined
with green leaves or cypress sprigs. The usual nest contains
2-4 eggs; however, rarely do more than 2 young per nest sur-
vive to fledge.


Wood Storks prefer a fresh-or brackish-water environment. They
commonly feed in roadside ditches and marshes, and nest in cypress
or mangrove swamps. The species' present range includes all of
Florida, excluding the Keys, and extends north to southern Georgia
and south to northern Argentina.


Storks appear to be extremely sensitive to the drainage of
wetlands, which results in a diminished aquatic food supply. Nesting
failures of Wood Storks have occurred with regularity for several
years, and have been attributed primarily to the reduced availability of
food. A small number of storks are lost to indiscriminate shooting.


The Wood Stork is protected by law. Several valuable nesting col-
onies lie within the sanctuary of the Everglades National Park,
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and the Pelican Island and Merritt
Island National Wildlife Refuges.
At present, the National Audubon
Society is experimenting with ar-
tificial fish ponds that are de-
signed to provide the stork with
an accessible supply of food dur-
ing critical dry periods. Continued
research is necessary to provide
a better understanding of the
needs of this endangered

population of Bald Eagles
which consists of about 3
breeding pairs, is probablI
the largest existing popul,
tion of this species in the
southern United States.


The Bald Eagle, our national symbol, is a large member
of the hawk family. The adult male measures 30-34 inches
(76-86 cm) in length, and the female, 35-37 inches (89-94 cm)
The wings of this eagle often span 7 feet (2 m). The white
head and tail, and dark brown body, are distinctive features
of adults. Immature birds possess uniform brown plumage.
While hunting for prey, eagles characteristically soar on
broad, flattened wings. Their call is a high-pitched shriek or


Bald Eagles pair for life, although new pair bonds are
often established if one member of the pair dies. In the fall
and early winter, nests are built or rebuilt in the tops of
pines or other tall trees, which are usually 50-100 feet (15-30
m) high. The usual clutch consists of 2 eggs. The young
hatch after 35 days of incubation, a duty that is shared by
both parents. The juveniles fledge at 10-12 weeks of age.
This bird of prey feeds primarily on fish, aquatic birds,
reptiles and carrion.

Sa .


The Bald Eagle usually inhabits either coastal or inland areas
near lakes, marshes, or rivers where fish, water birds, and reptiles
are abundant. The bird's range in Florida includes all of the state; the
eagle is found in greatest abundance within the Everglades National
Park, the lake Okeechobee region, the Kissimmee River Valley, and
the Ocala National Forest.


At one time the Bald Eagle was distributed throughout the
southern United States from California to Florida. In Florida the Bald
Eagle has declined in abundance by about 50% during the past 30
years; presently, however, the population seems to have stabilized at
about 300 pairs. The disturbance of nesting birds, habitat destruction,
illegal shooting, and, possibly, reduced reproductive rates as a result
of ingestion of pesticides, are factors that have played heavily in the
decline of this species.


The Bald Eagle is protected -
under state and federal law. The
enforcement of laws protecting
its habitat, particularly that used -
for nesting, is a priority need.
Public awareness of the bird's in-
ability to withstand disturbance is
essential to minimizing human
activity in areas where eagles
nest. The Florida Audubon Socie-
ty has negotiated agreements Common nesting sites
with Florida landowners for
2,300,000 acres to be treated as
nesting sanctuaries. Such
management actions should aid -
in safeguarding the Bald Eagle in


glade Kite, or Snail Kite, is
.unique to Florida. It is one o
cc the rarest birds in the Unitec
States, numbering about 30C


The Everglade Kite is a dark-colored, or Snail Kite, is
cm), hawk-like bird. When fully extended, its broad wings one o

span 45 inches (114 cm), and lend themselves well to the
'U the rarest birdie sharply hooked beak
is adapted for extracting its principal food, numbering about 300Snail,

from its shell. The adult male is slate gray, with a distinct

white patch at the base of its squarish tail. The female and
IMM juveniles also bear this white patch, but are mottled brown.


The breeding season of the Everglade Kite exteis a dark-colored, 17-inch-long (43from
cm), hawk-like bird-June. When fully extended, its broad wings

span 45 inchesting (114 cm), and lend themselves well to the

WSJ islands" within shallow marshes. Nests, constructed of
bird's and irborned with green vegetation, are sharply hooked beak

trees adapted for extracting its principle usual food,less the Apple Snail,n 8 feet
(4 from its shell. The adult male is slate gray, with a distinct
white pyu hatch after approximately 30 days of incubThe female and
juveniles also bear this white patch, but are mottled brown.


SThe breeding season of the Everglade Kite is a highly specialized feeder, con-
suming Apple Snails almost exclusively. The hunt for snails
Sla te February-mid-June. Everhes or whle the kite hovers closely
gregarious nesting in loose colonies on small "tree
Islands within shallow, open marshes. Nests, constructed of

'twigs and lined with green vegetation, are located in small
trees and shrubs; these nests are usually less than 8 feet
(244 cm) above water. The average clutch numbers 3-4 eggs;
the young hatch after approximately 30 days of incubation.
w The Everglade Kite is a highly specialized feeder, con-
suming Apple Snails almost exclusively. The hunt for snails
is executed from perches or while the kite hovers closely
above shallow, open marshes.


The Everglade Kite is limited to those few freshwater marshes
that sustain Apple Snail populations. Presently, the kite is found only
in the vicinity of Lake Okeechobee and in the upper regions of the
Everglades National Park.


Until the early 1920's, the Everglade Kite was common in
freshwater marshes throughout peninsular Florida. However, a census
in 1950 revealed a population of less than 100 Everglade Kites.
Man's need for land is a main factor in the reduction of this kite
population. Extensive drainage (or controlled flooding) of south Florida
marshlands for agricultural purposes has rendered these once prime
habitats unfit for the Apple Snail, and consequently, unfit for the
Everglade Kite. In drought years the kite's habitat, already extremely
limited in quantity and quality, is subject to further reduction. Without
adequate food, the Everglade Kite experiences reduced reproductive
rates. In addition, some kite losses are attributed to indiscriminate


The Everglade Kite is
presently under legal protection;
however, legislation is needed to
protect the habitat of the kite.
State and federal acquisition of
preserve areas, in which water
levels could be maintained for op-
timum snail production, would
probably enable the Everglade
Kite to increase in abundance.
Public education that will lead to
recognition of the kite, and to an
understanding of its urgent situa-
tion, may help to allieviate other -- -
human pressures on the popula-


o '1 THREATENED. The Audu-
CO bon's Caracara in Florida
Shas undergone a slow, lon(
term decline in abundance.
The present population in
M1 Florida probably numbers r
more than 300 birds.


SThe Audubon's Caracara is a large-headed, long-legged
f hawk, that stands about 22 inches (56 cm) in height and has
a wingspan of 4 feet (122 cm). The crown, back, wings, and
1 belly are rusty-black. The white neck, orange skin around its
_._ stout beak, and yellow legs distinguish it from the vultures
that frequent the same habitat. Male and female Caracaras
are identical in plumage and size. Immatures are brown to
buff-colored with pink facial skin and gray legs. Their call,
S"caracara", from which they take their name, is usually ac-
companied by a conspicuous backward motion of the head
and neck.


The Caracara is an opportunistic feeder, eating insects,
reptiles (especially turtles), fish, birds, and small mammals,
-.'1 as well as carrion. Nests, constructed of sticks and almost
-. always built in cabbage palms, are from 7-50 feet (2-15 m) or
more above ground level. Breeding occurs from January-
March; usually 2 or 3 eggs are laid per clutch. The young
hatch after 30 days of incubation, and fledge about 8 weeks
_i later.


In Florida, the Caracara is limited principally to the prairie regions
associated with Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River Valley.
The Caracara is also found in California, Texas, and Arizona, as well
as in Central America and Mexico.


The increasing loss of prairie habitat and illegal shooting have
been two major factors accounting for the decline of this species in
Florida. Because of its habit of feeding on carrion along highways, a
few Caracaras are hit and killed by motor vehicles each year.


Legal protection must be continued. Educational programs,
stressing that these birds of prey are not pests, would very likely
reduce shooting losses. However, preservation of the Caracara's
prairie habitat is the best management approach to insure that
Caracaras will survive in Florida.




3 THREATENED. Florida pres
LL /ently supports a population
Z J of about 4,000 Florida
Sandhill Cranes.

The Florida Sandhill Crane is a gray, long-legged, long-
necked, large-bodied bird, found principally in the prairie
marshes of the state. In coloration and stature, this 44-inch-
J tall (112 cm) bird resembles the Great Blue Heron that often
frequents the same wetland areas; however, it is easily
Distinguished from the heron by its characteristic red crown.
The male bird is slightly larger than the otherwise similar
Female. Another subspecies of the crane, the Greater
Sandhill Crane, is a migratory winter visitor to Florida and
EZ occupies the same area as the resident Florida Sandhill
Crane; these two cranes are indistinguishable in the field.
The call of the Sandhill Crane is a very distinctive,
Smelodious, rattling bugle, often delivered while the birds are
in flight.

Florida Sandhill Cranes usually occur in small groups
as permanent residents of an area. Nesting occurs from
SJanuary-June, being dependent to a large extent upon water
levels. A water depth of about 1 foot (30 cm) in a heavily
vegetated pond provides the optimum nesting habitat. There
Sthe female lays 2 buff-colored, brown-spotted eggs on large
Sound of aquatic plants. The male and female share the
I- duties of nest defense and incubation. The young cranes are

precocial that is, they are fully feathered when hatched and are
able to walk and feed within a few hours thereafter. The diet of the
cranes is diverse, consisting of insects, frogs, small rodents, grass
shoots, tubers, seeds, and acorns.

The Florida Sandhill Crane occupies shallow wet prairies, ponds,
and marshes that offer a good supply of food. Although this crane can
be found throughout most of peninsular Florida, it is more abundant
in the wetland habitats of the Paynes Prairie State Preserve, the
Kissimmee River, the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and
Fisheating Creek.

The population appears reasonably stable, but may be declining
slowly. The crane's reproductive rate is low; thus, it has a limited abili-
ty to "bounce back" from losses due to habitat degradation as a con-
sequence of human encroachment.

The Florida Sandhill Crane is under the protection of state and
federal law at this time. Since the loss of habitat is a somewhat con-
trollable cause of a declining
population, habitat preservation
is a valuable management
measure. The current outlook for
the Florida Sandhill Crane, if it
can be maintained on protected
habitats, is good. Transplanting
wild birds, as well as introduction .
of captive-reared birds into -
suitable areas where crane
numbers are low, appear to be
viable tools in the management of
this threatened species. It is
hoped that these management -
strategies, plus continued -
ecological research, will prevent
the Florida Sandhill Crane from ;
reaching a more critical status.

-7 .1.

CERN. The present popula-
tion of Roseate Spoonbills
Florida is probably less tha
one-third of the level record
ed at the turn of the century)
The bulk of Florida's populz
tion occurs in Florida Bay,
and numbers less than 2,501

The Roseate Spoonbill, the only large pink bird native tc
peninsular Florida, stands 28-32 inches (71-81 cm) tall. This
long-legged wading bird possesses a unique, long, flat,
spoon-shaped bill. Adult Spoonbills have featherless heads;
their body plumage gradually changes from white on the
neck and back to bright pink on the wings and tail. Immature
Spoonbills are white to pale pink.

The Roseate Spoonbill exhibits a specialized method of
feeding. The long, spoon-shaped bill is equipped with small
fingerlike projections and a complex system of nerves. This
tactile system enables the Spoonbill to sense and capture
small fish, insects, crustaceans, molluscs, and vegetation
harbored in the muddy coastal shallows. Spoonbills feed
while wading, swinging their bills in the water from side to
Spoonbills nest and roost in dense mangrove thickets
adjacent to productive shallow bay waters. Usually these
shallows exhibit a minimum tidal range, which guarantees
food availability at most times of the day. Nesting is col-
onial, often in close association with ibises and herons. The
male Spoonbill defends a 20-foot-wide (6 m) nest territory at


the onset of nesting; this territory shrinks to the immediate vicinity of
the nest at the beginning of incubation. Both sexes share in the in-
cubation of the eggs, which usually number 2 or 3. They nest only
once each year. Incubation lasts 23-24 days. Spoonbills begin
breeding at about 3 years of age.

The Roseate Spoonbill is primarily found in coastal regions
characterized by shallow estuarine bays, brackish ponds, and
mangrove swamps. In Florida, the largest concentrations of Spoonbills
are found in the Ten Thousand Island region, in Florida Bay, and in
the Keys. Roseate Spoonbills occur as far north as coastal Texas,
Louisiana, and South Carolina. Their southern range includes Mexico,
Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Literally thousands of Spoonbills existed along the Gulf Coast
prior to 1850. The 50-year period from 1850-1900 marked the era of
plume hunting in this country. Spoonbills, over-hunted for their plume
feathers, had reached an all-time low in abundance by the late 1800's.
This low was exemplified by only 3 small colonies, which produced a
total of 20-25 nests. Laws in Louisiana and Texas, which not only pro-
tected the Spoonbill, but also designated sanctuaries for the species,
were followed by a modest recovery of the population in those states.
However, the Spoonbill remains in a precarious position in Florida.
Human encroachment and land development, which destroy feeding
and breeding areas, continue to threaten the Spoonbill's future.

The Roseate Spoonbill is pro-
tected by law, as are many of its
nesting and feeding sites. Under
this protection, the Spoonbill has
been slowly increasing in
numbers. However, additional
state and federal acquisitions of
Spoonbill habitat are needed. The
reintroduction of Spoonbills into
areas where they once were com-
mon may, upon further research,
prove to be a valuable manage-
ment tool.


CERN. A slow, long-term
decline in the population of
Limpkins has occurred in
this country since the 1920'
This trend, coupled with the
Limpkin's reliance on a
rapidly disappearing
wetlands habitat, points to
precarious future for this
bird. The major portion of
the Limpkin's range lies
within Florida.

The Limpkin is a long-legged, long-necked, wading bird
of predominantly olive-brown coloration. Small white spots
accent the neck, back, and upper wings. Although the
plumage of the Limpkin is drab and indistinct, its limping
gait from which its name is derived and low, wailing
call are unique. This bird has a long, downward-curved beak
that is well adapted for extracting freshwater snails, the
Limpkin's main food, from their shells. The adult male, at 2E
inches (66 cm) in length and 2 pounds (907 g) in weight, is
slightly larger than the female; the sexes are otherwise iden

SIn Florida, active Limpkin nests have been observed
From December-August. Nests, consisting of mounds of
aquatic vegetation, are constructed at water level in open
marshes, in low bushes, or in trees that overhang deep
Streams and rivers. The usual clutch consists of 4-8 eggs.
Young Limpkins are precocial, hatching covered with down
J and essentially ready to leave the nest within a few hours.

The Limpkin's diet is very specialized, being limited to organisms
that inhabit freshwater wetlands predominantly snails and mussels,
and to a lesser extent, worms, crustaceans, and frogs.

Limpkins feed in shallow water, and consequently inhabit slow-
moving freshwater river, stream, and marsh systems. This choice of
habitat appears to depend strongly on food availability. The range of
the Limpkin includes nearly all of peninsular Florida, north to
southeastern Georgia, and south to Cuba, Mexico, and Central and
South America.

At one time, the Limpkin was hunted extensively for food.
However, the population decline it has experienced in past decades is
more readily attributable to the degradation and disappearance of its
wetland habitat as a consequence of land development. Draining,
channeling, and filling wetland areas has resulted in altered water
levels which, in turn, have adversely altered the Limpkin's food sup-

State and federal laws afford "_ r --
the Limpkin protection from inten-
tional molestation by humans.
However, as yet no laws protect
the bird from the indirect harass-
ment, in the form of habitat
destruction, that occurs in con-
junction with human encroach-
ment into wild areas. Extensive
research into the life history of i
the Limpkin is needed to provide
a sound basis for management

.-*'* "

THREATENED. Migratory in
habit, the White-crowned
Pigeon is primarily a summer
breeder in the Florida Keys;
it is found only rarely on
mainland Florida.

The White-crowned Pigeon closely resembles the
Domestic Pigeon in shape and size; however, the White-
crowned Pigeon has both a longer tail and somewhat more
sloping forehead than its domestic kin. Adult White-crowned
Pigeons average about 13-14 inches (33-36 cm) in length and
23 inches (58 cm) in wingspan. The male varies from dark
bronze-green to slate gray, showing some irridescence and
bearing a distinct, large white crown; in contrast, the female
is dull gray-brown, and lacks distinct markings. Both sexes
have bright red legs and feet.

The White-crowned Pigeon is a migratory summer resi-
dent of Florida, arriving in the Keys in April and departing
during the fall months. In late spring, they breed and nest in
colonies on coastal islands. The nests constructed of
twigs, roots, and grasses are usually located, one per
tree, in dense mangrove thickets. The clutch usually con-
sists of 2-3 eggs. Adults may, however, nest more than once
per season.

White-crowned Pigeons are well adapted to living in trees; their
short, broad wings enable swift and agile maneuverability among the
dense tree branches.
The mainstay of the pigeon's diet is fruit, although snails and in-
sects are sometimes consumed.

White-crowned Pigeons inhabit small, coastal mangrove islands
that are close to subtropical and tropical inland hammocks where
fruit-bearing plants are abundant. The species' range includes the
coastal islands of the Caribbean from Panama north to Yucatan,
and from extreme southern Florida and the Keys east and south to the
Bahamas, Greater and Lesser Antilles, and Antigua.

Reduction of the White-crowned Pigeon population is primarily at-
tributed to hunting pressures in Caribbean countries. In these coun-
tries the hunting season for White-crowned Pigeons unfortunately
coincides with the nesting season. The pigeon's habitat is also being
rapidly destroyed and degraded by commercial land development.

At present, the legal protec-
tion afforded the White-crowned
Pigeon, whose range crosses in-
ternational boundaries, is limited
to Florida. Under this protection,
the pigeon population in Florida
has maintained reasonable
stability. Protection, however,
should be extended to the other
countries within its range. In
Florida, where pressures upon the
White-crowned Pigeon are in the
form of habitat loss, careful con-
sideration of this species in
future land-use planning is
urgently needed.






I.. "= .

0"-.*' ..**


EXTINCT. The last confirms
Florida sighting of an Ivory-
bill occurred in 1950 in the
Apalachicola River Swamp.
Later possible sightings
were reported near Gulf
Hammock in 1963, and neai
Highland Hammock in 1967


The 21-inch-long (53 cm), black and white Ivory-bill is thi
largest woodpecker in this country. The Pileated
Woodpecker, often mistaken for the Ivory-bill, is similarly
colored, but lacks the large, white wing patches and heavy,
ivory-colored bill. The male Ivory-bill has a distinctive red
crest, whereas the female's crest is black.


The diet of the Ivory-bill consists almost entirely of
wood-boring beetle larvae that inhabit dead or dying trees.
This species establishes and defends territories that
supply its food. From January-May, Ivory-bills nest in hollow
cavities excavated in cypress or pines. Usually 3-5 eggs are
laid per nest. The male performs the majority of the incuba-
tion. Young birds remain with their parents for 2-3 months.


This species was once an inhabitant of the river swamps of
northern Florida and the southeastern portion of the United
States from Texas to the Atlantic Coast and north to southern Il-
linois and Indiana.


The destruction of dense river swamps by timbering, which
removed the dead or dying trees from which the Ivory-bill derived its
food, is believed to account for the disappearance of this species.


Until an up-to-date sighting of an Ivory-bill can be confirmed,
strict legal protection of areas where Ivory-bills were last known to ex-
ist is the only protective measure that can be employed.


THREATENED. An estimate
/ 1,800-4,600 Red-cockaded
Woodpeckers presently exi
Li in Florida. This species is
also found in scattered col
onies throughout the
southeastern and southcen
Stral United States.

This small, 9-inch-long (23 cm) woodpecker is identified
by its white cheek patch, black crown, and black and white
Barred back. The adult male of this species possesses a
small, inconspicuous red spot or "cockade" on its
black crown, hence the name "Red-cockaded". Red-
cockaded Woodpeckers, as do most woodpeckers, possess
strong, clawed toes of which two point forward and two
backward. This toe arrangement, coupled with a stiff tail
that is used as a prop, enables woodpeckers to cling ver-
tically to tree trunks. Their bill is strong and sharp, and thus
-L is well adapted to excavating tree cavities or chipping away
bark to expose wood-boring insects.

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers usually occur in clans of
2-8 birds. Holes, to be used for nesting and roosting, are ex-
0' cavated 20-70 feet (6-21 m) above ground, usually in old, liv-
ing pines, where the infection of red-heart disease has
.Cl caused the heartwood to soften. The tree cavities excavated
by this species are recognizable by the presence of a
whitish, pine-resin glaze that typically oozes from around the
cavity opening and drips down the tree trunk. An average
J. clutch of 4 eggs per nest is laid in April or May. The young
hatch 10 days later, and are attended by the parents as well
as by the unmated "helper" males of the clan. The young

woodpeckers fledge and join the clan approximately 1 month after
Red-cockaded Woodpeckers feed primarily on bark-dwelling in-
sects and spiders, seeds, and fruit.

The scarcity of cavity sites is the major factor limiting the popula-
tion of this species. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers require mature pine
forests, where the red-heart fungus is common. Longleaf pine is a
favored cavity tree. Formerly, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers were com-
mon throughout peninsular Florida as far south as the Everglades, and
in the southeastern United States from Virginia on the north to Texas
and Oklahoma on the west. Currently, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker
is most abundant in South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida.
One of the largest populations of the species is located within the
Apalachicola National Forest in the eastern Florida panhandle.

Forest management practices, which dictate the removal of
fungus-infected trees and the harvest of pines before they are fully
mature, have greatly reduced the availability of cavity sites. Conse-
quently, the population of the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers has de-
clined seriously.


The Red-cockaded
Woodpecker is protected by law
in Florida. Some valuable nesting
habitats have been preserved
within the boundaries of state
and national parks and forests
throughout north Florida. The pro-
tection of known nesting col- Known colonies
onies, and the preservation of
tracts of mature pine forests
within the species' range, should
insure a population of Red-
cockaded Woodpeckers for the


0 THREATENED. Although
W stable population of Scru
Jays exists in the western
SUnited States, the eastern
9 population of this jay is
Q precariously small, and is
limited to the Florida pen

,, The Florida Scrub Jay is a 12-inch-long (30 cm) crestle,
CL member of the jay family. Its black face mask, white throat
buff-colored back, and solid blue wings and tail distinguish
it from the more common Blue Jay. Male and female Scrub
Jays are identical in size and plumage. Young jays possess
a light brown plumage on the head and back.

The Scrub Jay is a sedentary species, occupying the
same area throughout most of the year. The jays form per-
manent, monagamous pair bonds, with the male and female
often remaining together even during the nonbreeding
season. Nests, normally constructed of twigs, are usually
located in myrtle oaks, wax myrtle, or Chapman's oaks;
these nests are commonly about 3-12 feet (91-366 cm) above
the ground, and usually about 3 feet (91 cm) from the edge
of an open, brush-free feeding area. Nesting occurs from
early March-June. Incubation spans 17 days, with the youni
hatching just after the spring leaf fall a time when bloon
ing oaks attract hosts of small insects that make up the dii
of the young jays. Pairs often nest 3-4 times per year;
however, usually only one of these clutches (3-5 eggs) pro-
duces fledged (young that are ready for flight) young. Youn,
jays remain in the immediate territory of the nest as
"helpers" for at least 1 year after hatching; they aid the

adults in the defense of the nest and territory, and sometimes in the
feeding of the pair's brood. Snakes prey heavily on young jays,
especially during the first 3 weeks after hatching.
The adult Scrub Jay diet consists of insects, spiders, frogs,
lizards, acorns, and berries.

As their name implies, Scrub Jays are inhabitants of dry, scrub
regions a habitat-type that is widespread in Florida. However, most
Florida scrub areas fail to meet all the necessary habitat requirements
of the jay: low, dense, evergreen oak thickets for nesting, and large,
adjacent open areas for feeding. Small areas of suitable Scrub Jay
habitat are scattered from Jacksonville south to Homestead on the
east coast, from Gulf Hammock south to Bonita Springs on the west
coast, and from the Ocala National Forest south to the Kissimmee
River Valley in central Florida.

Scrub Jays are sedentary, remaining on the same site for most of
their lives. They rarely move to other areas, even when their habitat is
disturbed, and thus are intolerant of man-made pressures that alter
their environment. The destruction of large portions of scrub habitat
as a consequence of land development has led to the elimination of
some small isolated populations, and poses a serious threat to future
eastern Scrub Jay populations.

The only protective measure
employed today is the legal pro-
tection of the species. State ac-
quisition and protection of Scrub
Jay habitat is essential.
Maintenance of open, scrub areas \
by controlled burning may also
prove to be a feasible manage- .-
ment tool. I \





suses of the Dusky Seasid
Sparrow, a subspecies uni
que to Florida, yielded jus
13 birds all males. Quitt
possibly no females of the
subspecies remain. This
sparrow has experienced a
95% decline in abundance
since 1970.


The Dusky Seaside Sparrow is about 5.5 inches (14 cm)
long. Solid dark brown on its back, this sparrow has distinc-
tive dark brown and white streaks on its breast. The patches
above the eyes are bright yellow. Juveniles possess a light
colored, but similarly patterned plumage. The call of the
adult male is a short, buzzing trill, uttered while perched pro
minently on tops of grass stems. In flight, the bird offers a
very complicated, musical song.


The Dusky Seaside Sparrow is non-migratory. It breeds
in loose colonies, nesting 4-16 inches (10-41 cm) above the
ground in clumps of marsh grass. The nests, often active
throughout the spring and summer (March-August), are
defended tenaciously by the male. One to three clutches of
3-4 eggs each are laid per year. Young birds hatch after
12-13 days, and fledge 10 days later. The eggs and young are
prey to snakes and predatory mammals, such as raccoons
and rice rats.
The diet of this sparrow consists of insects, spiders,
snails, crustaceans, and small shellfish.





An open, brush-free salt marsh is the habitat preferred by the
Dusky Seaside Sparrow. The sparrows are very specific in the portion
of this environment that they inhabit, usually being found only from
about 10-15 feet (3-5 m) above sea level. Below this elevation, water
fluctuations play havoc with the sparrow's nests; above this elevation,
the land is dry enough to allow palm trees and shrubs to invade the
marsh, rendering the land unsuitable to the open-marsh-preferring
sparrow. Frequent burnings by ranchers, to keep the marshland
grasses suitable for cattle grazing, are a cause of nest losses. Dusky
Seaside Sparrows are known to exist only in the marshes of the St.
Johns River floodplain in east-central Florida.


Habitat destruction resulting from the drainage of wetlands for
development, unnatural water-level manipulation of wetlands for mos-
quito control, wildfires, and human encroachment is the foremost
cause of the decline in the abundance of the Dusky.


The Dusky Seaside Sparrow is
habitat are preserved within the St.
Refuge. The U.S. Department of
the Interior has recently formed a
Dusky Seaside Sparrow Recovery
Team, whose purpose is to
recommend management
measures designed to prevent the
extinction of this bird. As a part
of this effort, wildlife biologists
are attempting to raise and breed
the sparrow in captivity. Despite
extensive efforts to restore and
manage the marsh habitat that is
the sparrow's only remaining
stronghold in the St. Johns River
floodplain, the outlook for the
Dusky Seaside Sparrow is poor.

legally protected. Portions of its
Johns River National Wildlife

E Sable Seaside Sparrow has
Mu undergone a considerable
,P reduction in abun-
dance as much as 95%
some areas since 1955.
i The current population of
This sparrow numbers abou
S1,000, and is limited to the
extreme southern part of th


Sm The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow is 5.5 inches (14 cm)
Long. The sparrow has a solid, olive-green-gray back, and a
streaked breast. The adult male and female are identical in
plumage. Immature sparrows are a lighter olive in color, and
Entirely streaked. Sightings of this rather secretive
subspecies are usually rare; however, during breeding
0 season, males sing from prominent perches in the marsh.



SThe finely woven grass nests of this sparrow are con-
structed on or near the ground in clumps of marsh vegeta-
tion. The usual clutch consists of 3-4 eggs. The young hatch
LJ after 11 days of incubation, and fledge approximately 2
weeks later. The nesting process may be repeated 2-3 times
during the breeding season, which extends from February-
Cape Sable Seaside Sparrows feed primarily on insects
and spiders.


The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow is limited to a few brackish and
freshwater marshes of coastal southern Florida. Populations of this
sparrow are small and very localized.


The decline of this sparrow is a direct result of the destruction of
the salt marshes of southwestern Florida. Commercial land develop-
ment, the invasion of exotic vegetation, wild fire, and hurricanes have
been the major factors leading to losses of sparrow habitat.


The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow is protected by law, as is a ma-
jor portion of its habitat that falls within the Everglades National Park.
Additional acquisition and preservation of habitat is needed. More im-
portantly, maintenance of this habitat in an optimum-quality, shrub-
free state through controlled
burning, water-level adjustment, and
removal of exotic vegetation is
essential to the survival of this spar-




The Mangrove Fox Squirrel is a bushy-tailed rodent,
measuring nearly 2 feet (61 cm) in length from the tip of the
'-'; nose to the end of the tail. This southern squirrel is a
_' subspecies of the Eastern Fox Squirrel that is common to
; the backyards and woods of the eastern United States. The
'2 Mangrove Fox Squirrel is distinctly colored, varying from
black to brown, with orange-tinted sides, rump, belly, and


Litters of 2-4 young are produced 1-2 times each year,
usually once in the winter and again in the spring. Leaf
nests, located high in trees, and tree cavities are used for
nesting and shelter; neither type of nest, however, offers
much protection from the snakes, hawks, and Bobcats that
prey upon the young. The squirrel is active during daylight
hours, when it forages for seeds, nuts, and buds. Most forag-
ing occurs on the ground, which perhaps explains the squir-
rel's preference for brush-free pinelands. Fox Squirrels are
primarily solitary animals, coinhabiting a nest only during
the mating season.


At one time the Mangrove Fox Squirrel was common throughout
south Florida woodlands. The animal's present range is restricted to
the open pinewoods of the Big Cypress National Preserve in Monroe
and Collier counties, and to similar pine tracts in Dade, Hendry, and
Lee counties.


Like many squirrels, the Mangrove Fox Squirrel is somewhat
tolerant of human activity. To illustrate, Everglades City, in Monroe
County, boasted a sizable population of this subspecies at one time;
however, this entire population apparently perished during Hurricane
Donna in 1960.
Although able to live in close proximity to residential areas, the
Mangrove Fox Squirrel has suffered the consequences of human en-
croachment upon wilderness areas. Habitat loss through logging, land
development, and prevention of forest fires (which once naturally
maintained brush-free pinewoods) is suspected to have had an
adverse effect on the abundance of this squirrel.


At present, the Mangrove Fox
Squirrel is protected from being
hunted throughout south Florida.
Despite this protection, these
squirrels are frequently shot.
Maintaining the population in
Florida will be difficult without
public awareness of this
squirrel's precarious status. Near-
ly one-half of the squirrel's range
is included in park or preserve
land. Given proper habitat
management measures, such as
controlled burning, these pro-
tected lands may assure the sur-
vival of this threatened



o ENDANGERED. About 650
Zr- woodrats are known to in-
habit the 1,174 acres (475 t
of suitable habitat remainir
on Key Largo.


I The Key Largo Woodrat is a subspecies of the Eastern
SWoodrat that is common to central and northern Florida. Th
woodrat measures about 14 inches (36 cm) in total length.
: This rodent is gray-brown on the back and head, and distinct
tly white below. The woodrat has large hairless ears, and a
short, 5.5-inch (14 cm) haired tail.


O The woodrat has a unique habit of building large,
multiple-chambered nests, made of sticks, on the ground.
CThese nests, often 4 feet (122 cm) high and 6 feet (183 cm)
wide, are comprised of a combination of natural materials
and manmade litter, and have led to the apt nickname of
this rodent "packrat". The nests and the territories sur-
rounding them are occupied by solitary woodrats, or by a
MI- female and her litter. The female woodrat breeds year-round
producing 2-3 litters of 2-4 young each. Newborn rats are
deaf, blind, and only partially haired. The young are nursed
0 until 4 weeks of age. Woodrats reach reproductive maturity
Jin their second year of life. Woodrats, which are prey to rac-
coons, snakes, and owls, are active principally at night (they
are nocturnal).

Seeds, fruit, buds, and leaves constitute the woodrat's diet. Occa-
sionally they gnaw on bones and deer antlers that have been
shed perhaps to obtain some nutrients not found in their everyday


The Key Largo Woodrat's specialized habitat requirements are
met only within mature tropical hardwood forests. This habitat type
was, at one time, found throughout the upper Florida Keys. In-
terestingly however, the woodrat may never have occupied any of the
Keys except Key Largo. Presently, this woodrat's natural range is con-
fined to 1,174 acres (475 ha) of hardwood forest on the northern por-
tion of Key Largo.


The decline in the woodrat population is a product of develop-
ment of Key Largo. Destruction of the hardwood forest by burning and
bulldozing has drastically reduced the habitat, and thus the range, of
this species.


Presently, the Key Largo
Woodrat is protected by state
law. Its occupied habitat is,
however, in private rather than
public ownership. Proposed
development of northern Key
Largo would eliminate the habitat
that the woodrat now occupies.
The woodrat has been successful-
ly introduced into the mature
hammocks of nearby Lignum
Vitae Key. Additional introduc-
tions into suitable protected
areas would be a beneficial
management strategy.



THREATENED, except in
E Baker and Columbia coun-
ties, and in the Apalachico
c3 National Forest, where bea
o populations are higher. The
population of black bears i
Florida probably numbers

SThis subspecies of the more northern-ranging black
bear is the only bear found in Florida. It is somewhat
smaller than its northern relative, with an adult length of
. LJ about 5 feet (152 cm). Adult females weigh about 200 Ibs (9"
P kg), compared to about 300 Ibs (136 kg) for adult males, but
are otherwise similar in appearance. Although their fur is
uniformly black in color, some bears have a small white
throat patch. Young black bears weigh only about 1 pound
(454 g) at birth.

Black bears are territorial and solitary, except during
the breeding season. The aggressive disposition of the blac
bear is often emphasized in folk tales but usually without
-good reason. Female bears with cubs, as well as sick or in-
jured bears, may exhibit aggressive behavior; however,
retreat is normally the bear's method of dealing with a
threatening situation. Florida Bears do not hibernate, but
may sleep intermittently through the cool winter months.
When active, adult bears are basically nocturnal. They often
S have home ranges that are 20 or more miles (32 km) in
Females attain breeding age at 3 years, and thereafter
IiI breed in June or July of alternate years. Gestation lasts
100-200 days, and the blind, well-furred cubs usually
S twins are born in January or February

The black bear is omnivorous in its selection of food, feeding on
a wide variety of vegetable material (nuts, berries, roots, and leaves),
invertebrates, and small animals. Bee hives are often torn apart in the
bear's quest for honey.

The black bear prefers areas of dense cover, primarily favoring
mature palmetto-pine woods, and ti-ti and cypress swamps. In Florida,
this subspecies is found predominantly in the Big Cypress National
Preserve, and the Ocala, Osceola, and Apalachicola National Forests.
The black bear also occurs in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and
possibly Louisiana.

Cattle ranchers and beekeepers have historically considered the
black bear a threat to their economic endeavors; consequently, the
shooting or poisoning of black bears has been commonplace, and has
probably contributed significantly to the decline of this mammal in
Florida. However, the bear's decline in abundance can be most direct-
ly attributed to the disappearance of "wilderness" habitat. In recent
years, timber harvesting (particularly extensive clearcutting), drainage,
and real estate development, have greatly reduced the black bear's

The black bear is under legal
protection throughout Florida;i -
however, sport hunting of black 'I .1
bears is legal in Columbia and
Baker counties, and in the
Apalachicola National Forest. To
prevent them from becoming
economically destructive to
beekeepers and ranchers,
nuisance black bears are
relocated by the Florida Game
and Fresh Water Fish Commis-
sion to areas where they should
pose no threat. The acquisition of-
black bear habitat in Florida,
development of ecologically
sound land-use plans, and public
awareness of the animal's status
are viable conservation measures.

ENDANGERED. A precise estimate of the number of pan-
thers in Florida is difficult to obtain because so few report
sightings can be positively confirmed. Very likely, fewer th,
50 panthers exist in the state today.


The Florida Panther is a large, long-tailed, uniformly
light-brown cat, reaching a maximum of about 7 feet (2 m)
length. It is often mistaken for the smaller Bobcat, whose
coat is spotted and tail is much shorter. Panther tracks are
about 3 inches (8 cm) wide; they are larger, even when a pe
their is young, than those of the largest full-grown Bobcat.


Usually 2-3 young are born to panthers every 2-3 years
The kittens are born and nursed in dens, which are often
located under fallen trees or in dense brush.
Panthers are carnivorous. They hunt by stalking their
prey, which includes a variety of birds and mammals, par-
ticularly deer.





i '* *"

|- i, .k- 1'j, .
'M-.^.:o ^ :: ., ', '
Eif li.. ;.. '_: ,s;r.. '' ,.. ,


Panthers occupy habitats that support substantial deer popula-
ions. This transient cat is suspected of traveling as far as 20 miles
32 km) within a single day. At one time panthers were found
throughout Florida, including the Keys, but today the few confirmed
ightings have occurred primarily in the Fakahatchee Strand of the
lig Cypress National Preserve and in the Everglades National Park.


Panthers have long been glorified in folk tales as devious, slink-
ng killers of animal and man alike. These myths have led to the un-
varranted persecution of this cat. Although there has never been a
report of a panther attacking a human in Florida, man continues to
;hoot this animal out of fear for himself and his livestock. Shooting,
education of habitat, and encroachment by man are the detrimental
orces that have pushed the Florida Panther to the verge of extinction.


The Florida Panther has been legally protected since 1958.
-owever, several panthers have been killed illegally since then, in-
ficating the need for more stringent enforcement of the law. Already
n jeopardy, the Florida Panther
:annot withstand further losses
is a result of wanton killing. Con-
sequently, the Florida Panther
\ct, enacted in 1979, makes the
tilling of a panther a felony. A
programm for the release of
;aptive-reared panthers into
suitablee habitat is in experimental
stages, and may prove to be a
liable means of replenishing the
:ritically low population.
-lowever, widespread public Areas of
awareness that the Florida Pan- confirmed sightings
her is not a threat to society is
he most compelling first step to
safeguarding the few remaining
animals of this species.







population of Caribbean
Manatees currently numbE
less than 1,000 animals.


The Caribbean Manatee, or "sea cow", is recognized b
its immense, gray-brown, walrus-like body. This massive,
slow moving animal belongs to the order Sirenia, so named
for the mythological water-dwelling sirens. The forelimbs ar
paddlelike flippers, and the tail is rounded and flat; these
features allow the animal to maneuver underwater. The
Manatee is almost entirely hairless, except for sparse
bristles that are found mainly on its thick, split upper lip.
The male and female are similar in appearance, often
reaching weights in excess of 1,000 pounds (454 kg) and
lengths of 10 feet (3 m) or more.


A single calf is born per cow at intervals of 2-5 years.
After a 13-month gestation period, the 45-60 pound (20-27 kc
calf is born. Manatee calves nurse in the water. At 2 years c
age, the calf may have increased its birth weight by as muc
as 400% on a diet of aquatic vegetation and its mother's
milk. Reproductive maturity is attained at 5-8 years of age.
The life span of Manatees in the wild is unknown; however,
captive Manatees have been reported to live more than 30

Habitat selection by the Manatee depends upon the availability of
food and, possibly, freshwater. Manatees are herbivorous, and are
most often found in rivers, estuaries, and saltwater bays, where
aquatic vegetation is abundant and freshwater is nearby. In the winter
months, Manatees congregate in warm water areas near artesian
springs and power plant discharges. Their winter range in Florida ex-
tends from the St. Johns River southward to the Keys on the Atlantic
coast, and from the Crystal River to Florida Bay on the Gulf coast. In
the summer, Manatees may be found along the coast of Florida and
Georgia and occasionally as far north as North and South Carolina.

The Manatee's only known enemy is man. Because of their
slowness and habit of feeding on submerged vegetation in shallow
bay and river areas, an alarming number of Manatees are injured or
killed by the propellers of fast-moving, motor-powered boats. A signifi-
cant number are also killed when they are crushed, or trapped and
drowned, in the gates of flood-control structures. Harassment,
poaching, and habitat destruction also take a heavy toll of Manatees.
With the ever-increasing human use of coastal areas, a slow decline in
Manatee numbers is foreseen for the future.

Because of the Manatee's low numbers and widespread range,
the laws that protect them from harassment and killing are
difficult to enforce. Stricter en-
forcement of these laws, con-
tinued establishment of Manatee / I
sanctuaries (initiated by the \
Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978), -
and continued research into the
ecology of this species are essen-
tial to the preservation of I--. -
Manatees in Florida. Little suc- '
cess in the management of i
Manatees can be attained without- --
public awareness and support. j -
Regulations and educational cam- ',-
paigns on behalf of the Manatee, _
such as those that led to the
posting of Manatee warning signs
in motorboat areas, are urgently

0 THREATENED. The preset
population of Key Deer, a
0 subspecies unique to
Florida, numbers about
350-400 animals.

population of Key Deer, a
o subspecies unique to
Florida, numbers about
350-400 animals.

Often referred to as the "toy deer", this smallest race c
North American deer, the Key Deer, is a subspecies of the
Eastern White-tailed Deer that is common throughout the
central and eastern states and peninsular Florida. A full-
grown Key Deer stands just 26-32 inches (66-81 cm) high at
the shoulder; the female weighs 35-65 pounds (16-29 kg) an(
the male weighs 60-90 pounds (27-41 kg). Key Deer fawns,
2-4 pounds (907-1814 g) at birth, bear white spots which
disappear as the deer mature. Adult coats are deep red- to
gray-brown. Most male Key Deer do not develop a full rack
of 6-8 point antlers until 4 years of age.

Breeding occurs primarily in September and October,
with fawns seldom more than 1 per doe being born in
April and May. The offspring remain with the doe in a family'
group, while the bucks tend to be more solitary, feeding ani
bedding together only during the non-breeding season. Key
Deer are herbivorous, feeding exclusively on plant material.
Large areas are used for browsing for food; the ranges of ir
dividual does include approximately 130 acres (53 ha), and
those of bucks, about 300 acres (122 ha).

Key Deer are restricted to the islands between Sugarloaf Key and
Dhnson Key in the lower Florida Keys. They inhabit areas with a
variety of vegetation, the more important areas being pine and hard-
ood forests. The small deer commonly browses for food in young
)rest stands and in clearings for right-of-ways, where trees, shrubs,
nd herbs are readily available. The open areas also serve as bedding
rounds on warm nights and when insects are abundant. The deer
ften move to cool, open, mangrove forests and hammocks during the
eat of the day.

Land is at a premium in the Keys. Commercial real estate
development, in addition to over-hunting, led to the initial decline in
he Key Deer population. Today, the impact of accelerated human ac-
ivity has led to continued shrinking of the deer's habitat. The greatest
threats to the Key Deer at this time are the loss and degradation of its
habitat, and the frequent deaths resulting from collisions with
automobiles on the increasingly busy roads.

In 1947, the Key Deer population reached a low of less than 50
animals. Federal legal protection for the deer followed. In 1954, the
,000-acre (2,834 ha) Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge was estab-
shed to protect the deer's
anishing habitat. The present
population of Key Deer probably
presents close to the maximum
umber that can be supported by
he amount of habitat available
withinn the refuge. Population
ains can be made only if addi-
ional habitat is obtained. In addi-
ion, the present habitat must be
maintained in a quality state that
an best supply the needs of the
resent herd. Controlled burning
3 being utilized as a means for
maintaining quality food supplies
i the essential pineland habitat.
hese measures, coupled with an
cologically aware public, can in-
ure a future existence for the
:ey Deer. -"

Legal Status of Endangered and Potentially Endangered
Species in Florida
1 August 1979
Legal Status'

Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) E E
Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus) SSC
Key silverside (Menidia conchorum) E
River redhorse (Moxostoma carinatum) SSC
Alligator gar (Lepisosteus spatula) SSC
Bluestripe shiner (Notropis callitaenia) T UR
Lake Eustis pupfish (Cyprinodon variegatus
hubbsi) SSC
Saltmarsh topminnow (Fundulus jenkinsi) SSC
Rivulus (Rivulus marmoratus) SSC
Okaloosa darter (Etheostoma okaloosae) E E
Harlequin darter (Etheostoma histrio) SSC
Southern tessellated darter (Etheostoma
olmstedi maculaticeps) SSC
Crystal darter (Ammocrypta asprella) T UR
Key blenny (Starksia starcki) SSC
Shoal bass (Micropterus undescribed species) SSC
Suwannee bass (Micropterus notius) SSC

Pine Barrens treefrog (Hyla andersonii) E E
Florida gopher frog (Rana areolata) SSC
American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) E E
American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) SSC T
Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) E E
Atlantic green turtle (Chelonia mydas mydas) E E
Atlantic hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys
imbricata imbricata) E E
Atlantic ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempi) E E
Atlantic loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta
caretta) T T
Key mud turtle (Kinosternon bauri bauri) T UR
Barbour's map turtle (Graptemys barbouri) SSC
Suwannee cooter (Chrysemys concinna
suwanniensis) SSC UR
Gopher turtle (Gopherus polyphemus) SSC
Florida key mole skink (Eumeces
egregius egregius) SSC
Blue-tailed mole skink (Eumeces egregius
lividus) T

Legal Status'

Sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) T
Atlantic salt marsh water snake (Nerodia
fasciata taeniata) E T
Short-tailed snake (Stilosoma extenuatum) T UR
Big Pine Key ringneck snake (Diadophis
punctatus acricus) T
Red rat snake (Elaphe guttata guttata) -
lower Keys population only SSC
Florida brown snake (Storeria dekayi victa) -
lower Keys population only T
Miami black-headed snake (Tantilla oolitica) T UR
Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corals
couperi) T T
Florida ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus
sackeni) lower Keys population only T

Eastern brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis
carolinensis) T E
Wood stork (Mycteria americana) E
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) T E
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Everglade kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis
plumbeus) E E
Marsh hawk (Circus cyaneus)
Southeastern kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) T
Eastern kestrel (Falco sparverius sparverius)
Pigeon hawk (Falco columbarius)
Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) E E
Audubon's caracara (Caracara cheriway
auduboni) T
Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) SSC
Cuban snowy plover (Charadrius
alexandrinus tenuirostris) E
Florida sandhill crane (Grus canadensis
pratensis) T
American oystercatcher (Haematopus
palliatus) SSC
Little blue heron (Florida caerulea) SSC
Snowy egret (Egretta thula) SSC
Reddish egret (Dichromanassa rufescens) SSC
Louisiana heron (Hydranassa tricolor) SSC
Roseate spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja) SSC

Legal Status'

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) SSC
Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) T
Least tern (Sterna albifrons) T
White-crowned pigeon (Columba
leucocephala) T
Ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus
principals) E E
Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides
borealis) T E
Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma
coerulescens coerulescens) T
Marian's marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris
marianae) SSC
Worthington's marsh wren (Cistothorus
palustris griseus) SSC
Cuban yellow warbler (Dendroica petechia
gundlachi) SSC
Bachman's warbler (Vermivora bachmanii) E E
Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) E E
Dusky seaside sparrow (Ammospiza
maritima nigriscens) E E
Cape Sable seaside sparrow (Ammospiza
maritima mirabilis) E E
Scott's seaside sparrow (Ammospiza
maritima peninsula) SSC
Wakulla seaside sparrow (Ammospiza
maritima junicola) SSC
Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus
savannarum floridanus) E

Gray bat (Myotis grisescens) E E
Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) E E
Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) SSC
Mangrove fox squirrel (Sciurus niger
avicennia) T
Sherman's fox squirrel (Sciurus niger
shermani) SSC
Goff's pocket gopher (Geomys pinetis goffi) E
Silver rice rat (Oryzomys argentatus) E
Pallid beach mouse (Peromyscus
polionotus decoloratus) E
Choctawhatchee beach mouse (Peromyscus
polionotus allophrys) T

Legal Status'


Perdido Bay beach mouse (Peromyscus
polionotus trissyllepsis)
Florida mouse (Peromyscus floridanus)
Key Largo cotton mouse (Peromyscus
gossypinus allapaticola)
Chadwick Beach cotton mouse
(Peromyscus gossypinus restrictus)
Lower keys cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus
Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana
Florida black bear (Ursus americanus
floridanus) except in Baker and
Columbia counties and Apalachicola
National Forest
Key Vaca raccoon (Procyon lotor
Everglades mink (Mustela vison
River otter (Lutra canadensis)
Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi)
Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
Caribbean manatee (Trichechus manatus
Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium)
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Sperm whale (Physeter catodon)











'E = Endangered; T = Threatened; SSC = Species of Special
Concern; UR = Under Review
2Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.
3U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


K.R TefertHllqfi director. In cooperation with the United States
e rtmentoef Agriculture, publlhes this Information to further the
t1JA -l.of the .May'8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Congress; and Is.
l;I. td' to provide research. educational Information and other
4. ponlmy toilnduduals and Institutlons that function without regard to race, color,
.- toqrlgln. Single copies of Extension publications (excluding 4 -M and Youth
t s) a available free'to Florida residents from County Extension Offices.
nIfir on -r bulk. rates or copies for out-of-state purchasers Is available from C. M.
i %'lp9tiation .Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University, of 'Fomid,
t$ M lflb Faldg 32611. Before publicizing this publication, editors should contact
af S to.determine availability.

S Thitpublication was promulgated at a cost of $8,916.56 or
$.949. per copy, to provide information on the biology and
mraMgaement of the endangered and threatened species of
ftrJda to teachers, students, and youth conservation groups.
F: ~





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