Public workshop at UF/IFAS facility to discuss invasive species

An alligator at Everglades National Park near Homestead, Florida. Parks and recreation, gators, wildlife. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Please see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With Florida facing an increasing invasion of exotic wildlife, UF/IFAS scientists and other specialists will hold a public workshop Sept. 16 at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center.

The workshop, a joint venture of UF/IFAS and the Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (SWFL CISMA), will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the facility, 2685 State Road 29 North, in Immokalee.

More than 140 species of reptiles and amphibians have been introduced in Florida, with more than 50 breeding here, said Frank Mazzotti, a UF/IFAS professor of wildlife ecology and conservation.

“South Florida is particularly susceptible to non-native invasions as a result of its subtropical climate, island-like geography, major ports of entry for plants and animals, thriving trade in exotic pets and occasional hurricanes, which increase the risk of escapes,” Mazzotti said.

Invasive wildlife species present a potential threat to a multi-billion dollar effort to restore Everglades ecosystems and a potential for economic damages to private landowners, he said. Methods to intercept, eradicate, or contain these invaders have not kept pace with the increasing threat.

This workshop will describe some of the more common and troublesome invasive animals in South Florida, their current status and methods being used to combat them. Scientists will also discuss the opportunity to prevent invasion through early detection and rapid response.

“Our target audience for this workshop is rural landowners, farmers and private land managers,” Mazzotti said. “The purpose is to raise awareness of the potential presence and influx of Tegu and Monitor lizards in our region as well as to provide an update on the ongoing python issue.”

Presenters will include officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the U.S. Geological Survey, SWFL CISMA and UF/IFAS.

The Workshop is free to the public and no registration is required. For more information, call 239-658-3400. Directions to the Southwest Florida REC are at http://www.imok.ufl.edu/about-us/visit/.

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Caption: More than 140 species of reptiles and amphibians have been introduced in Florida, with more than 50 breeding here, said Frank Mazzotti, a UF/IFAS professor of wildlife ecology and conservation. Mazzotti is among a group of scientists who will help to educate the public about how to handle exotic species at a workshop Sept. 16 at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee.

Credit: Tyler L. Jones

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Frank Mazzotti, 954-577-6304, fjma@ufl.edu