Bird That Lived in Florida Gone Forever

New list of extinct species serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting wildlife habitat

Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org | CC-BY-3.0
Bachman's warbler

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If you’ve ever spotted a Bachman’s warbler, you’re among the last to have the honor. The small yellow and black songbird that lived in Florida’s brush is 1 of 21 endangered species declared extinct this year – underlining the need to take protective actions BEFORE animals become endangered. 

In a release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Monday, the Bachman’s warbler and 21 other species were declared extinct and removed from the Endangered Species Act. The list included several species of mussels that were native to the Southeastern U.S.. The warbler was the only species mentioned that was ever found in Florida. 

The Bachman’s warbler nested in our state’s swampy thickets and could be found as far south as Cuba. The last known sighting was in the 80’s. Officials confirm human impact resulting in habitat loss and the introduction of invasive species and diseases is what drove the species on this list into decline and ultimately extinction. The agency underscores the importance of making an effort to “conserve species before declines become irreversible.” There are 32 birds considered threatened or endangered in Florida, and over a 100 more that are at-risk. 

Where Is The Help?

Enter the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 2273). The bipartisan bill is designed to do exactly what the FWS is suggesting. It allocates funding and technical assistance to the states to help protect and recover declining populations of fish and wildlife before they become threatened or endangered. Its purpose is to fund preventative work, and keep populations healthy. The bill passed the House in 2022. And currently has 16 bipartisan co-sponsors in the senate. Let’s look at how this funding could help save more of Florida’s wildlife.

Every state has a Wildlife Action Plan. This plan identifies species that are in decline and at the greatest risk of becoming threatened or endangered. In Florida, there are 690 of those species identified as “of Greatest Conservation Need,” including 102 birds. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has identified these populations, where they live, what threatens their existence, and their hierarchy of needs. 

The Florida Wildlife Action Plan outlines specific efforts to keep these species from spiraling downward by identifying actions to help mitigate the threats. For example, to address the threat of development, the plan includes protecting areas where these bird populations live and eat, and installing artificial structures where habitat is limited. 

USFWS | Public Domain
Florida panther on wildlife crossing

To reduce the number of wildlife collisions with cars, the plan calls for building more wildlife crossings and using strategic fencing or vegetation to guide wildlife to these crossings. Another threat stems from commercial and recreational fishing. Marine and bird rescue teams regularly respond to emergency calls of birds, turtles, or other marine life that have become trapped in abandoned fishing nets or hooked and entangled when a fisherman cut the line. The plan calls for outreach and education for boaters about this issue. It also outlines steps to prevent the spread of harmful wildlife diseases and to assess areas for climate vulnerability. The plan is comprehensive, but the funding is not. 

Help Fund Protection

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would help fund the actions outlined in the Wildlife Action Plans. Directing $1.4 billion to be divided up among the states to supplement any current funding, not replace it. It’s a measure that could ultimately save more animal species from extinction. Take a moment to send a message to your legislators urging them to protect our Florida wildlife by supporting this legislation today.

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Authors

Mia McCormick

Advocate, Environment Florida

Mia is focused on fighting for clean waterways, protecting Florida’s environmentally sensitive areas, advocating for stronger wildlife protections and reducing plastic pollution on our beaches. Mia lives in the Tampa Bay area and loves taking her family on nature adventures.

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