CREW Education Series
by Jayne Johnston, Education Coordinator
In this series, I will cover a variety of topics related to the wildlife of the CREW Project. While the main focus and priority is always water for people, it is also a special place where our wildlife benefit from the water and space provided, too. Second in this series – the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA).
The ESA was signed into law by President Nixon in 1972. This link is just under 9 minutes created by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to explain the basics of the ESA and how it works to keep wildlife – both terrestrial and aquatic – from going extinct. Video link: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/.
Wildlife is protected because each animal is a key ingredient in the ecosystem where it lives. Functioning ecosystems are kept in check by negative feedback – there are checks and balances that keep all its components at optimal function. Losing a species may create a negative effect that ripples through an ecosystem permanently altering all other wildlife, plants, and even water – how it moves and its quality and quantity. Check out some success stories here: https://www.reconnectwithnature.org/news-events/big-features/survival-stories-animals-back-brink-will-county
This is why it is important to have the state wildlife agency, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) as a partner of CREW implementing federal and state regulations (and protection once wildlife is no longer federally listed like the American alligator) through biological work and law enforcement provided by the FWC. A few of the federally listed species within the CREW Project are: Florida Panther, Eastern Indigo Snake and the Florida Bonneted Bat. In addition to federally listed species, each state lists their own protected species. State of Florida listed species found at CREW include: Big Cypress Fox Squirrel, Everglades Mink, Florida Pine Snake and Gopher Tortoise. There is wildlife that gets more attention than others so you may not have heard about some of these protected species.
We call the attention getters “charismatic megafauna”. One of the CREW Project’s charismatic megafauna is the Florida Panther. Although the Florida panther gets a lot of attention, protecting land serves not only them, but all the animals using the same habitat. While the CREW Project’s primary goal is water for people, wildlife benefits from the water resources and the 60,000 acres of protected land. You can support our partner’s work through purchase of speciality license plates, hunting and fishing license purchases, and donations to the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida that provides grants for FWC biologists. You can support the CREW Trust with memberships and donations.