Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

January 30, 2015

Not Extinct~

Galapagostortoise              Sierra_Nevada_red_fox
A Galapagos Tortoise  Picture credit: Matthew Field        A Sierra Nevada Red Fox  Picture credit: NPS

Extinction is a dirty, ugly word and usually we, the two-leggeds are to blame, but this week is a time to celebrate, for two rare and exciting sightings have caused great joy around the Globe.
This post is about two extremely rare and endangered creatures who have just shown up after many years, a very, very rare Sierra Nevada Red Fox in Yosemite National Park and also some very rare Tortoises in the Galapagos Islands.
Neither of these creatures had been seen in these particular places in about a hundred years.
So the fact that they have both made public appearances nearly in the same week, gives those of us who take such great delight in their very being, a reason to cheer.
My personal only sight of a Red Fox was in the West, just this side of the South Dakota border in Wyoming nearly twenty years ago.
It was a truly beautiful creature, and it made me sad to know how very few of them are still here for us to see in America.
In both of these instances, we disturbed and/or destroyed their habitats, their food sources, their air, their water, everything in the Environment of these critically Endangered animals, making their lives so unbearable, that they finally just disappeared for a century or more.
But, now, once more, we have been given, like with the American Bald Eagle, the majestic, magnificent National Symbol of our Country, a second chance to say we are truly sorry and promise to make things right.
Yes, DDT has been banished forever from this Country and the Bald Eagle finally did recover.
But there are new toxins, some even worse than DDT, like  ” Round Up “  to take its place and we must have the courage to tell those who make and sell them, and the others like them, we will not tolerate it, not never again.

We must promise to never take these precious creatures for granted, or abuse them again.
We may never get another chance if we mess this up, can we please, for their sakes, show them the dignity and respect that they deserve?
No, we  don’t deserve it, but maybe this time, we can say  “no, not for these two,”  we will not allow them to become extinct!

Places to learn more:
Baby Tortoises Found On Galapagos Island For First Time In Over 100 Years
Galápagos tortoise
Rare fox seen in Yosemite
Sierra Nevada Red Fox
One of North America’s rarest mammals spotted in Yosemite for first time in nearly 100 years

January 26, 2015

Floridian Lab Rats

A female aedes-albopictus
Picture credit: CDC

If you are coming to Florida any time soon, you may wish to avoid our lovely lower Keys.
But, why you may ask?
They are the most breathtaking place in this state, so what could possibly make you want to avoid them?
Well, how do you feel about millions of Frankenstein mosquitoes that could be turned loose there, if the FDA approves it?
It seems that the years of overuse of pesticides has made local insects nearly immune to most of them now.
So, enter Oxitec and their cuddly little GMO mosquitoes
The thinking is that they will breed with and then wipe out the locals who cause two vicious viruses, that are presently, without cure or vaccines, and quite well spread throughout the Caribbean area.
These viruses are,  chikungunya and dengue and yes, the affected  area does include parts of Southern Florida.
The FDA is the same organization that has never seemed to be able to say no to Monsanto, or their kinfolk, who rule the chemical world.
So, my guess is that they will get an instant approval to plow ahead.
As one who has opposed GMO’s since their inception and eats organic as much as possible, I find this all quite disturbing, as we simply have no idea of the danger or consequences posed by this insect, if we are bitten by one of  them.
It is odd that we could not do this in America, we had to go to the British for these adorable little GMO mosquitoes.
They, Oxitec, has already taken 70 million of these cute little guys on the road in the recent past to the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.
So why should you/we fear these tiny, little blood suckers?
Could it be the toxic soup that they originate from, like herpes simplex and E. coli?
These new mosquitoes will breed with the locals and cause massive extinction, they say, they hope.
Aye, but there’s the rub, dear readers.
What happens to the warm-blooded humans, pets and others, in the release areas, if they are bitten by a GMO insect?
They are not talking much about that.
My question, only one of many, what do the local Floridians think about this?
Better yet, how many were at a recent meeting, if they even knew about it?
A petition at Change.org has collected 130,000 signatures against this potential madness and I would truly love to hear what those in the drop zone have to say about what could be released into their back yards this spring.
Unless this British bug invasion is stopped in its tracks, we Floridians will soon become the first US mosquito lab rats.
Places to learn more:
Aedes albopictus
The Change.org Petition:  Say No
Millions of GMO insects could be released in Florida Keys
Action Alert: Keep Genetically Modified (GM) Mosquitoes Out of Key Haven FL
Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Coming to Florida
Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to be Released in the US for the First Time
Millions of GMO mosquitoes may be released in Florida neighborhood

January 17, 2015

Ishi, et al.

Our baby Ishi, so far, the only child of our sweet Harriet

Not wishing to put you all to sleep or bore you yesterday with a excruciatingly long post, I decided to split it in half, this then, is part two.
All the news today is not  bad, some of it is actually wonderful.
To begin…
A group of investors on the Gulf Coast here have donated over 200 acres of pristine land to be used for the benefit of Florida wildlife like the Florida Panther, red-cockaded woodpecker and Florida Black Bear.
This was an unexpected and generous thing and the animals say “thank you”
My only objections are, that hunting will be allowed on the land perhaps reducing the primary  food source for the highly Endangered Panther that calls this area home and secondly, the donors built a golf course in 2001, adding to the hundreds that are already here.
At a meeting in Tallahassee yesterday, the FFWCC laid out their plans for spending the millions that have been allocated to the state for the purpose of improving, expanding and maintaining prime and pristine wildlife areas.
One of the beneficiaries of this money and these new proposals, will be a personal favorite that we love and admire on our property here in the Ocala Forest, the long leaf pine.
This magnificent tree at one time covered most of the south-east of this country and supported many species of birds, including the nearly extinct red-cockaded woodpecker and the already gone, ivory billed woodpecker.
Another species of bird to benefit from all of this, is the now teetering on extinction, Florida Grasshopper Sparrow.
The details of the meeting will be here as they are revealed.
You can read more about the long leaf pine and  Endangered birds here: Walking With the Alligators
Now for the two sad stories…
The magnificent Monarch butterfly may soon be listed as Endangered.
We have personally watched in horror here in the Forest, as their numbers in the past few years have dropped to nearly zero.
When we first moved here in 2006, they were all over our yard, but in the past two years they have nearly completely disappeared, along with other fragile species, like our green tree frog and green lizards, which by the way is the only lizard native to Florida.
These species are the “canary in the coal mine,” but for that to matter, someone has to ask why?
The blame for the Monarch decimation, lies squarely on the shoulders of companies like Monsanto, who know and care little, about the negative impact that their number one selling pesticide Round Up has had on the Global Environment and can I mention it doesn’t do much for people either.
Monsanto is a very powerful company and their long arms reach way into our Government and the agencies that should be harnessing them.
With the Monarch now approaching the same fate as the millions of Bison that once roamed this country, will our Government finally rein them in?
I guess that depends on whether or not we force them to, by boycotts, picketing and shunning both the company and those who choose to support them.
When I began writing this Blog, I was not convinced that anything done on Blogs had an impact on the real world, but after seeing what a Blogger did to Subway and their “rubber mat bread,” I now believe that we can and do make a difference.
We have the power to create change and we must use it for the good it can do.
This final story is the most painful for us personally.
If you have been here for a bit, you know about our baby Ishi, pictured above the day we found her.
She was the sole survivor of our resident dear Gopher Tortoise, Harriet.
We were so very grateful to have found her and are praying that she makes it to adulthood, unlike her siblings, which did not.
So, seeing this story about the kidnapping and planned murder of 170 precious, rare and Endangered ones like her, from the island of Madagascar where they live, makes our blood boil.
The idea that these monsters can take these beautiful creatures, murder them to make, God knows what, jewelry, or  ???, is simply beyond our comprehension.
Any one of them might have been our baby Ishi, so this post today is dedicated to Ishi, et al.
Places to learn more:
Investors donate land for wildlife habitat to DEP:
Florida funds to restore long leaf pine, endangered species habitat
Monarch Butterfly May Join Endangered Species List
Endangered tortoises found at Paris airport
Baby tortoises found at airport
Baby Tortoises

January 16, 2015

We Are Their Only Hope

brownpelican1     bearcub2     blackrhino
Brown Pelican, Black Bear cub and Rhinos

It has been entirely too long since I have been  able to share any news about wildlife with all of you, so today’s posting will address several issues, I apologize and hope that you have a big pot of coffee nearby~
To begin and it is with great sadness that I share this, the state of Florida is entertaining the idea of allowing Bear Hunts.
Yes,  you did hear that correctly.
After I was promised by the “man at the top” only a year ago that this could and would NEVER happen, it was on our local news last night and again this morning.
They claim that since bears are no longer in severe shortage here in central Florida and have become a more or less, ” invasive species,”  something must be done to correct this problem, before someone gets killed.
They forget to mention the fact that over the past two years, MANY Bears have been killed for being proved of, or suspected of,  being “problem” Bears.
At no point has anyone pointed out that for nearly a century,  no one here, was ever killed by a black bear, just recently have these ugly situations started happening.
Can we please  say why?
People, Humans,  are, in record numbers, moving into all parts of the suburbs and shoving Bears out of their ancestral habitats, they are keeping food available that tempts the bears, even though they are repeatedly warned that doing this will only cause many more problems.
Of course the bears are always the ones to pay for the indiscriminate,  stupid and thoughtless behaviors of the Humans who live in Orlando’s Bear areas.
The news is constantly showing pictures of people feeding the bears, leaving pet food outside, leaving garage doors open with filled and open trash containers in them.
These behaviours have cost many bears their lives, but not a single human theirs.
So, now with another “incident”,  the answer in their minds,  is that an “open season” on the bears, will surely end the problem.
Stay tuned for the follow-up on this…
Next story
Brown  Pelicans are being butchered here.
When I left California in 1999,  I had hoped that I would never have to hear about this ugly behavior again.
Well, it is happening here right now.
Once again,  people who are yet unnamed, are attacking and maiming innocent Brown Pelicans,  local fishermen may be prime suspects.
In  South Florida and the Keys,  Brown Pelicans are being found that have been brutally attacked.
As always, more when it is learned, will be found here.
Next, a Florida Auction President in Boynton Beach has pleaded guilty in Miami to Wildlife trafficking.
His truly ugly, disturbing  and disgusting story is below.
And finally, for today,  the League of Women Voters has had their request to stop  the use of silencers on Florida hunting guns, rejected by a Judge.
Is anyone surprised about this?
It has been a pretty tough week for animals here in Florida.
But, the year is young and I refuse to give up hope.
As always, “we must speak for those with no voice, we are their only hope.”
Places to learn more:
Black Bears to be hunted
Brown Pelicans being attacked
FWC seeks information on Pelicans
U.S. Auction House President Guilty of Rhino Horn & Ivory Trafficking
Judge dismisses request by League of Women Voters to stop suppressor hunting in Florida