TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently was awarded almost $83,000 to support captive breeding of the Florida grasshopper sparrow, North America's most endangered bird.

  • Fewer than 80 Florida grasshopper sparrows left in the wild
  • Nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida awarded nearly $83,000 
  • Project to focus on caring for captive flock at White Oak Conservation

The money was awarded by the nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.

Fewer than 80 Florida grasshopper sparrows are left in the wild, and there's a high chance that the population will go extinct within 10 years without intervention, the FWC says.

The captive breeding program, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and White Oak Conservation, is trying to reverse the population decline.

"We are committed to ensuring the Florida grasshopper sparrow does not meet the same fate as the dusky seaside sparrow as last-minute efforts to save the bird through captive breeding came too late. Extinction for the Florida grasshopper sparrow would be devastating," foundation President and CEO Andrew Walker said in a news release.

Grant funding came from the “Conserve Wildlife” specialty license plate fund managed by the foundation, wich recently completed a contest with Ringling College of Art & Design to redesign the plate in the hopes of increasing sales, and thus increasing grant funding.