Management of Critical Wildlife Areas

Limiting human-wildlife conflicts in the coastal zone, specifically in Critical Wildlife Areas, is a high priority. Human-wildlife conflicts increase as the human population increases and areas available to wildlife decrease. Even with the protections provided by the CWA, conflicts still occur and additional management strategies are needed to reduce human-wildlife conflicts and to maintain habitat suitability for wildlife.

Between 1972 and 1993, FWC established 22 Critical Wildlife Areas around the state, with 18 still in existence. Fifteen CWAs currently provide significant habitat for nesting, roosting, or foraging seabirds, shorebirds, or wading birds. The strategies described in this document focus on current and proposed management at these 15 sites, and potentially any other future CWA. These strategies are necessary to minimize disturbance and enhance habitat.

  • Post sites annually. Pre-post historically used breeding sites whenever feasible.
    Posting establishes a buffer zone with signs and/or symbolic fencing to help prevent people, pets, vehicles and vessels from getting harmfully close to nests, roosts, or foraging areas. Please see the Florida Shorebird Alliance Posting Guidelines External Website Adobe PDF for more information.
  • Work with local government, conservation organizations, and property/land managers to develop vegetation management practices that will promote breeding.
    Vegetation management should only be used when historical beach nesting habitat has become unusable due to vegetation succession or when appropriate nesting habitat is scarce within the CWA boundary due to encroachment by native or non-native coastal plants due to a lack of overwash from storms or hurricanes. Removal of exotic vegetation, particularly any perches or nesting substrate for predators (e.g. Australian pines) is of highest priority.
  • Identify opportunities for habitat creation.
    Efforts to protect remaining suitable habitat and to limit disturbance of nesting birds may not be sufficient to prevent declines. The creation of suitable nesting habitat may be a partial solution. Nesting habitat may be created by depositing dredged material (spoil) in coastal areas. Barges or rafts could be placed or constructed and outfitted with sand and/or gravel and be used as artificial nesting habitat. Similarly elevated platforms with sand and/or gravel could be placed within CWAs.
  • Develop Best Management Practices for predator control.
    FWC will coordinate with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, and other institutions as necessary to develop Best Management Practices (BMPs) for mammalian and avian predator control where problems exist.
  • Identify sites that are subject to recurrent, problematic overwash and erosion and implement appropriate restoration measures.
    FWC and partners will work with local governments and FDEP on plans for erosion control projects to ensure that plans do not conflict with CWAs.
  • Seek management authority and funding for breeding sites on unmanaged state lands.
    Some CWAs occur on unmanaged state lands, meaning they are not under the jurisdiction of a state agency such as FWC, the Florida Park Service, or the Florida Forest Service. These lands are under the jurisdiction of FDEP’s Division of State Lands. These sites have no staff or funds dedicated to their management.
  • Educate the public about the consequences of disturbance, habitat loss, and other threats to birds through appropriate mediums.
    The general public, especially beach-goers and recreationists, should be made aware of nesting and foraging species within CWAs, and that certain activities may disturb them. They should be encouraged to be sensitive and minimize disturbance through various educational and outreach channels.
  • Develop strong coordination between law enforcement officers, non-sworn staff, and partners to monitor disturbance.
  • Determine breeding population and productivity annually.

Currently 5 of these 8 strategies are regularly in practice at the following CWAs:

CWA name/Strategy

Posting

Veg Mgmt

Education

LE Patrols

Monitoring

Amelia Island

X

 

X

X

X

Bird Islands

X

 

X

X

X

Fort George Inlet

X

X

X

X

X

Matanzas Inlet

X

   

X

X

Deerfield Island

X

X

     

Bill Sadowski

X

   

X

 

Big Marco Pass

X

 

X

X

X

Caxambas Pass

X

X

 

X

X

ABC Islands

X

   

X

X

Rookery Island

       

X

Little Estero Island

X

     

X

Myakka River

 

X

 

X

X

Alafia Bank

X

 

X

X

X

St. George Causeway

X

     

X

Tyndall

X

 

X

X

X

Alligator Point

X

   

X

X

Gerome’s Cave

X

 

X

X

X



FWC Facts:
Approximately 1.7 million acres of Florida's remaining natural areas have been invaded by nonindigenous plant species, which have degraded and diminished our ecosystem.

Learn More at AskFWC