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Mexican Red-bellied Squirrel Management Plan

Biscayne National Park » Mexican Red-bellied Squirrel Management Plan » Document List

Dear Friend of Biscayne National Park:

The introduced Mexican red-bellied squirrel (Sciurus aureogaster) population in Biscayne National Park (BISC) appears to be a significant threat to the Park's natural resources. Primary concerns of the Mexican red-bellied squirrel's introduction within BISC include: damage to native vegetation, including the endangered Sargent's palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii),and state-threatened thatch palms (Thrinax radiata, Thrinax morrisii); avian nest predation); competition with the state-threatened white-crowned pigeon (Columba leucocephala); and feeding on the Florida tree snail (Liguus fasciatus), a species of special concern. The potential for further spread to other islands and mainland Florida is of conservation, agricultural, and economic concern. Range expansion of the BISC S. aureogaster population would likely lead to competition with the federally endangered Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli), the federally endangered Key Largo cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola), the state threatened Big Cypress fox squirrel (Sciurus niger avicennia) and the grey squirrel (Sciurus caroliniensis) as well as other native species. Damage to Florida's agriculture and horticulture industries is also of concern, since S. aureogaster has been documented causing damage to agricultural crops such as corn in its native range. In south Florida, S. aureogaster may impact tropical fruit production. To eliminate continued resource impacts within BISC as well as potential impacts from a range expansion outside of the park boundary, the National Park Service has examined several management alternatives, as described in Section II of the Management Plan, and proposes eradication of S. aureogaster from BISC.

This Management Plan and its NEPA categorical exclusion tier from a previous Environmental Assessment (EA) entitled 'Management of Predation Losses to State and Federally Endangered, Threatened, and Species of Special Concern; and Feral Hog Management to Protect Other State and Federally Endangered Threatened, Species of Special Concern, and Candidate Species of Fauna and Flora in the State of Florida'. This previous EA was prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS) in cooperation with the National Park Service (among others), and had a a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI, approved January 18, 2002). South Florida National Parks were directly involved in the preparation and review of this document. The scope of this document is sufficient to cover the proposed action. The scope states: "This EA evaluates planned predator damage management to protect endangered, threatened, and species of special concern in the state of Florida from mammalian predators." A public comment period of 30 days was part of the Environmental Assessment. No negative comments regarding exotic species control were received in the preparation of that EA.

Public comment is invited on the Management Plan for the Introduced Exotic Mexican Red-bellied Squirrel (Sciurus aureogaster) Population of Biscayne National Park, Florida. Comments may be mailed or hand-carried to the Superintendent at the address below or entered directly on-line by clicking Comment on Document. Comment must be received by September 10, 2007.

Thank you for your interest in Biscayne National Park.

Sincerely,

Mark Lewis
Superintendent

Contact Information

Tony Pernas