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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Whether or not residents can tell which species are invasive, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is taking “bold steps” to prevent new invasive from calling the state home.
On Wednesday, Commissioners with the FWC announced that they’ve directed staff to take bold steps to protect Florida’s native ecosystems from invasive fish and wildlife.
During a meeting this month, Commissioners tasked staff with drafting proposed rules to prevent the establishment of new nonnative species in Florida.
According to a news release, staff members will conduct a risk analysis to prove that a species poses little to no threat to Florida’s ecology, and economy, as well as human health, and safety. From there, it will be determined if the species is approved to come into the state.
“I have no qualms about saying we are shutting Florida down to invasive species. You are going to have to prove to us that what you are bringing in is not hurting Florida, that it will not harm our native ecosystem,” FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto said in a statement. “Look what the Burmese python and the tegu have done already. We are not trying to hurt the industry, but the time has come that we say Florida is off limits to any new species.”
Officials stated that staff will share any proposals with the Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Technical Assistance Group, also known as the TAG, and will solicit feedback.
According to the FWC, Florida is highly susceptible to the successful establishment of nonnative and invasive fish and wildlife due to the state’s subtropical climate, multiple ports of entry, and the high levels of live animal trade.
Nonnative fish and wildlife can cause harm to Florida’s ecology and economy as well as human health and safety.
The FWC said more than 500 nonnative species have been reported in Florida, stating that a large amount of these species have been introduced through live animal trade with at least 139 established in Florida, meaning they’re reproducing in the wild.
Due to the fact nonnative fish and wildlife find their way into Florida’s habitats through escape or release from the live animal trade, it is important to prevent high-risk nonnative fish and wildlife from becoming introduced or further established in Florida’s environment through regulatory action, according to officials.
The FWC uses regulation of high-risk nonnative fish and wildlife in conjunction with a variety of other management strategies to minimize adverse impacts of invasive species and to prevent the introduction of additional species into the wild.
For more information about nonnative species in Florida, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.