Update on Eastern Indigo Snake Permitting Guidelines, Imperiled Species Management Plan

Posted Friday, June 12th, 2015

In April 2015, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released draft permitting guidelines to implement their Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 6 cooperative agreement between to allow FWC to issue take permits for the federally-listed eastern indigo snake. The way those permit guidelines were drafted would have caused a significant change in the way eastern indigo snake presence on private property would have been handled, with significant mitigation contributions and survey expense and a complete change from the way eastern indigo snake are handled by FWS now. Due to Hopping Green & Sams’ efforts on behalf of several clients, and input from various parties, the FWC has now at least temporarily shelved the incidental take permitting guidelines and will develop scientific collecting/education take permit guidelines only. Focus will instead be on developing permitting guidelines for state-listed species. There has been no schedule released for the scientific take permitting guidelines.

The FWC issued a revised draft Imperiled Species Management Plan (ISMP) Law & Policy section in early June. The ISMP is the overarching plan pursuant to which FWC would develop permitting guidelines for all of the state threatened species and state species of special concern based on the species action plans that were previously developed for those species. This effort continues to move forward, but the schedule has been pushed back. While the Commissioners will still be briefed on the ISMP progress at their June meeting in Sarasota, there will be nothing presented to them in draft form at that time. The draft ISMP is scheduled to be presented to the Commissioners at their August meeting. Finalization and adoption of the ISMP is tentatively expected in February 2016. One draft set of species-specific permitting guidelines has been unofficially released so far, for the sandhill crane, with more expected in the coming weeks. However, permitting guidelines for all state species will not be ready by the time the ISMP is adopted, but are expected to be added as they are developed later.

For additional information contact Susan Stephens.

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