Sunday, December 21, 2008

Out-of-control growth in Florida puts more wildlife at risk

Out-of-control growth in Florida puts more wildlife at risk
|Orlando Sentinel A quiet drama is playing out in Florida as rare grasshopper sparrows and snail kites face extinction while panthers, black bears and bald eagles find new hope after a once-uncertain future.

Those are some of the winners and losers in Florida this decade, during which the federal government has been criticized for watering down safeguards for imperiled species. The Bush administration recently moved to reduce protections for endangered animals and plants, eliminating some mandatory, independent reviews by government scientists. Environmental groups have sued to block the rule and president-elect Barack Obama has vowed to reverse the changes.

Yet there are protections other than the 35-year-old Endangered Species Act, an imperfect shield between wildlife and hunters, bulldozers and any number of other threats.

Florida has its own program to revive troubled species, while universities and environmental groups take on a share of research and hands-on rescue efforts. If a central lesson emerged this decade, it's that millions of dollars, countless hours and a concerned public can bring at least the promise of a success story for an imperiled species.(read more)

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