Florida’s Imperiled Animal Species, Part 4

In this 4th installment of Florida’s Endangered, Threatened and Species of Special Concern we’re looking at an owl, a whale, and a snake.

burrowing owls

Photo: By travelwayoflife (Flickr: Owl Family Portrait) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Burrowing Owl; Bird; Athene cunicularia: This unique Florida Species of Special Concern is the only owl in North America that lives underground…hence, Burrowing Owl. Here they most often dig their own burrows, but are not above using abandoned armadillo or gopher tortoise burrows. Another interesting trait is their ability to hover in flight, a real asset for hunting in the open prairies they prefer. Habitat loss in central Florida is the primary reason for concern. You can learn much more from the links below:

MyFWC, Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail, All About Birds

 

Humpback_Whale

Photo: “Humpback Whale underwater shot”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Humpback_Whale_underwater_shot.jpg#/media/File:Humpback_Whale_underwater_shot.jpg

Humpback Whale; Mammal; Megaptera novaeangliae: This magnificent creature’s recovery is a real conservation success story — one of the first species to be protected in the U.S., they are now being considered for removal from the Endangered Species list, though they will remain protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

They live throughout the oceans, though they are grouped into 12 Distinct Population Segments; 8 of these are considered Not At Risk, 2 are considered Threatened, and 2 are considered Endangered. The North American populations are considered Not At Risk due to early conservation efforts. Once hunted relentlessly, their global population fell to an estimated 10,000 – 15,000, but have since rebounded to an estimated 80,000. Check out the links below for much more information:

NOAA, Whale Facts, Endangered Species Coalition

 

eastern indigo snake

Photo: By Pattavina, Pete (US Fish & Wildlife Service) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Eastern Indigo Snake; Reptile; Drymarchon corais couperi: The largest native snake in North America, some growing to more than 8 1/2 feet long, they are listed as Federally Threatened. The Drymarchon part of the Latin named is loosely translated from Greek as Forest Ruler…perhaps you can see why. They are, however, nonvenomous and very good for the environment…they even eat venomous snakes, as they are immune to the venom.

Over-collecting for the pet trade, along with the practice of gassing gopher tortoise burrows to collect rattlesnakes, caused dramatic population declines. Since then habitat loss is the main culprit, because they like to live on dry land and so do humans. Much more information on this Forest Ruler can be found in the links below:

Fish & Wildlife Service, Orianne Society, MyFWC

 

With 145 listed species in Florida, we still have a long way to go, so please check back to learn more about these imperiled animals.

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