How to determine if the property is occupied by scrub-jays?

Please keep in mind, all applicable local, state, and Federal laws in regard to clearing and construction impacts still apply.

Obtaining Building Permits

If you are planning to build within a year, check with a professional environmental consultant about the scrub-jay situation in your area. You can find environmental consultants listed in the telephone book or from list on the Sarasota County website. Some of these consultants also provide services in Charlotte County. Your consultant will advise you if a scrub-jay survey is needed for your parcel.

In Sarasota County, if your consultant advises that a scrub-jay survey is needed for your parcel, you would need to send the survey results and a Scrub-jay Review Package to the Fish and Wildlife Service for evaluation. The Scrub-jay Review Package is provided here – PDF, 36.3 KB.

In Charlotte County, if the survey is negative, you should to send the survey results and Scrub-jay Review Package to Charlotte County along with your building permit application. If your scrub-jay survey is positive, then send the results of the survey and Scrub-jay Review Package to the Fish and Wildlife Service for evaluation.

If the Fish and Wildlife Service determines that your lot is not occupied by the scrub-jay, then we will send written confirmation to the County once you have provided proof that a building permit application has been submitted.

If the Fish and Wildlife Service determines that your lot is occupied by the scrub-jay, we recommend that you apply for an Incidental Take Permit prior to building or clearing vegetation. This can be a lengthy process and requires mitigation. See below for more details on how to obtain an Incidental Take Permit.

If land is occupied by Florida scrub-jay

Under the Endangered Species Act, take of occupied habitat of a federally listed species such as the Florida scrub-jay requires an incidental take permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service. This permit allows the take of a federally listed species incidental to a lawful activity, such as residential home construction. An approved habitat conservation plan is needed to obtain an incidental take permit. A habitat conservation plan may include avoidance, minimization and mitigation of impacts to the Florida scrub-jay. An example of mitigation is habitat replacement at a ratio of 2:1, in the form of title to other occupied lands, conservation easements, purchase credit at a scrub-jay conservation bank, or payment to a scrub-jay land acquisition fund.

For more information on obtaining an incidental take permit and the habitat conservation plan process, please check document from FWS Website. The Habitat Conservation Planning and Incidental Take Permit Processing Handbook is provided here – PDF, 6.41 MB.

If you are interested in pursuing an incidental take permit and habitat conservation plan please contact our office at 772-562-3909.

Currently it may take a year or more, from the time a complete application is received by our office until a permit is issued. We are working to identify ways to streamline the HCP process including batching small landowners together to reduce paperwork. We believe this will be more cost effective and efficient for all involved parties.

Building on property at a later date

Because it is difficult to predict the location or status of Florida scrub-jays in the future, we are advising property owners to contact this office at least one year prior to building on their property. Land owners are under no obligation to do anything unless they are proposing to develop their property and it is occupied by the Florida scrub-jay.

Selling property that is occupied by Florida scrub-jay

You will indeed be able to sell your property if desired. The sale or purchase of property alone will have no affect on listed species. Individuals interested in buying or selling property may contact a qualified environmental consultant to perform a due diligence review.

If you assume the Florida scrub-jay is present on your property you can obtain an incidental take permit that can be transfered with the property.

Clearing land without a permit

If you are clearing your lot and have endangered species or endangered species habitat on your property, you may be in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Violation of the Endangered Species Act under 16 USC 1540 is a Class “A” misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, and/or up to a $100,000 fine for individuals or up to $200,000 for corporations. Civil penalties range up to $25,000.