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July 27, 2011

Wildlife Rescue Issue

This involves a kind person who is concerned about turtles and fish in a neighborhood lake that's about to be filled in with dirt. If you're inclined to rescue wildlife, you should know this.


The query: ''I received a Hearing Notice regarding some zoning changes in the Fountainebleau Park

area in Miami (zip code 33172). The petitioner is requesting "to permit the filling of an existing lake"

- how would they go about it? The rather small lakes around here are home to fish and turtles and

it would be simply too cruel to just fill them up with dirt in order to gain land for construction.

I am aware that these are not protected species but am still wondering if anything could be done

to either prevent it or do it humanely.''

The response:

Thank you for your concern regarding our fish and wildlife--this is a question that comes up occasionally whether the cause is construction, or drying up water bodies during drought. Your sentiment is in the right place, but unfortunately there is not a practical solution for this situation, and it also raises a number of issues. The first issue with relocating fish or wildlife in a case like this is the possible transfer of diseases from one area to a new location, detrimentally affecting a new population. Second is the possible accidental movement of exotic species (of which Florida has both turtles and fishes) to a new location, which is illegal. Third, there are issues regarding legal methods of collecting the fish and turtles, as well as bag limit restrictions, which would actually require a special permit (and all the accompanying application and documentation paperwork) to accomplish. (For example, if someone grabbed their cast net and caught and moved six bass from a drying-out canal to the lake in their HOA, they've just broken at least two laws--even though their intent is good.) In addition, the negative ecological impact is very small--as would be the possible positive impact of successfully moving fish and wildlife to a new location. For all these reasons, and because filling in is similar to natural drought which occurs annually in many parts of Florida, we do not recommend moving fish or wildlife under such circumstances. However, we appreciate your concern.


John Cimbaro
Biological Scientist III
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
561-625-5122, Ext. 123


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