A coordinated effort between Audubon Florida’s policy, science, land management and education teams, our Florida Invasive Species Task Force addresses the mounting threat of non-native, invasive plants and animals to our native species and habitats. By engaging partner organizations and harnessing the power of our 44 Florida chapters, we work to detect, control and prevent further introductions of invasive species and protect our natural ecosystems.
The ecological integrity of Florida’s ecosystems faces considerable risk from the continued spread of non-native plants and animals. Our state’s role as a hub of U.S. import, coupled with our welcoming subtropical climate, allow stowaway and escaped species to flourish. While much attention is focused on Florida’s invasive plants due to their potential economic impact, invasive animals are having devastating effects on Florida’s unique ecosystems.
What are we doing?
Audubon has partnered with several groups throughout the state to help address this mounting threat. Our current efforts vary based on immediate needs in different parts of the state, but are primarily focused on:
- Helping steer public policy and support legislation to halt the importation and interstate commerce of Burmese pythons and other species that pose an immediate threat to native species and ecosystems;
- Assisting with monitoring and eradication efforts on Audubon’s own properties (Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Panther Island Mitigation Bank) and throughout the Greater Everglades region through participation in Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area groups (CISMAs);
- Conducting ecological research and providing scientific expertise on realized and potential impacts of invasive species on wading birds and their prey; and
- Incorporating invasive species awareness into education programs at our Centers and throughout the state via our staff and 44 chapters.
How can you help?
We are asking our fellow Audubon members and friends to be our ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground, reporting these and all non-native animals that have entered our natural areas. With your help, we can protect native birds and other wildlife! Here are a few simple things you can do:
- Be a responsible pet owner. Releasing non-native animals into the wild is dangerous for them (most don’t survive) and dangerous for Florida’s native wildlife if they do. Contact your local animal control or FFWCC for no-questions-asked options to surrender your unwanted pet so it can find a new home.
- Educate yourself about what animals in your area are non-native. Audubon Florida has created this factsheet to help you learn about some of the species that are most common or biggest threats. Also, use the resources listed at the bottom of this page for more information.
- Learn to recognize and report large, invasive reptiles. Several large, non-native lizards and snakes are now breeding in central and southern Florida. Many of these species are dangerous carnivores potentially harming our native ecosystem. Anyone who spends time driving, working outdoors or enjoying the outdoors can benefit from the REDDy online training, and can help play a key role in detecting and documenting the spread of these animals.
- Report invasive plants and animals observed or encountered in your community or anytime you’re out enjoying Florida’s special places. Reporting through IVEGOT1 is easy online or while on-the-go using a simple smartphone app. It is extremely helpful if you can include a photograph to aid identification efforts. A video tutorial is available to teach you how to use this easy reporting program.
- Stay informed about invasive species research, news, new threats and what to be on the lookout for in your area by bookmarking the Invader Update section of our blog and on Twitter @GladesScience