Abstract

The state of Florida has among the two worst invasive species problems in the USA. Besides the sheer numbers of established exotic species in Florida, many present novel difficulties for management, or have other characteristics making effective management extremely challenging. Moreover, initiation of management action requires more than recognition by experts that a potentially harmful species has become established. It also

Correspondence: Richard Engeman Tel: (970) 266-6091 Fax: (970) 266-6089 email: [email protected] aphis.usda.gov requires the political will along with concomitant resources and appropriate personnel to develop effective methods and apply them. We illustrate various aspects of the situation in Florida with examples of invasive vertebrates, the problems they pose(d), and management approaches to the problems.

The problems described include long-established widespread and destructive species requiring intensive localized management (feral swine, feral cats); recently established species with potentially severe repercussions, but no broad operational removal programs yet in place (Nile monitor lizards, Burmese pythons), highly prolific mammals that could rapidly invade wide areas without containment/eradication (Gambian giant pouched rats, black-tailed jackrabbits); recently established, potentially destructive birds that might still be eradicated (purple swamp hens); species where sufficient public outcry resulted in control programs (black spiny-tailed iguanas); and rapidly expanding aggressive species for which no practical management actions are available (northern curlytail lizard). A species subset is used here to exemplify in more detail the array of invasive vertebrate species situations in Florida, including routes of introduction, impacts, surrounding politics, and management actions. These examples not only demonstrate the breadth of the terrestrial invasive vertebrate problems in the state, but they also show the diversity in resolve and response among the many species and the motivating factors.

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