Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

July 30, 2011

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker

Last night we watched a Documentary, The Ghost Bird.
Although this was not a new subject to us, some of what we saw in this film was not known and very disturbing on several levels.
We know that this beautiful bird is more than likely extinct, but perhaps it might not have been without the help of the Logging Industries and the Science, Hunting and Garment Communities.
The demise of many birds and much wildlife began in the last century with the old growth timber deforestation of millions of acres all over this country.
Magnificent trees that once housed the largest Woodpecker in America, became fields of soybeans, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker and many other birds lost their habitats forever.
In this film, among other things, it was shown that one Ivory Billed nest, in particular, had it eggs removed, not once, but twice in a single breeding season.
To understand the scope of this, imagine that you are pregnant and awaiting the birth of your child and then when it is born, it is taken away from you.
So, you get pregnant again and again your child is taken away.
Can you imagine how this pair of birds who mate for life, must have felt?
And please do not tell me that birds cannot feel grief, because we simply do not know that.
Next we are shown massive Ornithology storage facilities; the endless steel cabinets with their countless drawers at Cornell, Harvard and Yale Universities.
We are shown tray after tray of dead Ivory Billed Woodpeckers and many other birds.
Now where do you suppose these elite schools acquired all of these dead birds?
It was never revealed.
We know that in the past hunters killed this and many other birds to eat them and also so that women could have pretty feathers on their hats!
We are told of the beautiful birds that no longer exist, including, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, Carolina Parakeet, Passenger Pigeon and many others.
My question is this:
Is it possible that in our urgent need to clear the most land, have the best Ornithology Department, be the prettiest dressed woman, or most successful hunter, we contributed to the demise of these birds?
The price for our greed, for our selfish human nature was very high.
Was it all worth it?
Can't ask the birds, they're not here anymore.

July 27, 2011

Our Gopher Tortoise

Today, as I watched our female Gopher Tortoise scurry under the side fence of our front yard and dive down into her burrow, a sad thought crossed my mind.
She is one of the very few lucky ones.
Each time that she goes out under the front gate and down the road on one of her "journeys", we worry until she comes home again, grateful that she has not been hit by a car.
We moved into the Ocala Forest in 2004 and she and our Airedales have owned us, since.
Harriet, as we call her, has the complete run of our one acre yard and because of her and the scarce green treefrogs, lizards and skinks who share our home with her, no poisons or pesticides are used on our lawn or plants.
She eats her way all over our yard in complete peace and we know that what she eats is the food that she really needs and wants.
It all looks like weeds to us, but she is so happy.
It is all natural, just what she would have found to eat if she came here a thousand years ago.
Does Harriet know that today the FWS, which was organized to protect and to serve our wildlife, has decided that her life and the lives of thousands of others just like her here in Florida do not have a great deal of value to them. 
She, they, cannot vote or donate to political campaigns, so how important can protecting them really be?
Why should these people, who just a few years ago, allowed the wholesale slaughter of her kind when developers were allowed to kill them without concern and over 70,000 were buried alive?
What does this kind of behavior say for us as a race?
I know that you are sick of hearing this, but Gandhi's words ring in my ears again today:
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress, can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by Man from the cruelty of Man. "

July 23, 2011

The Bill That Will Undo Years of Protection for Endangered Wildlife

If you read this story and understand that the woman who wrote it was weaned on the kind of rhetoric that permeates Washington today, you will see just how scary this all is.
Read her passionate plea to the deaf ears in D.C.
We need to stand beside her and all who aspire to see our wildlife and our environment preserved and protected.
Please let Washington know that we are united in our convictions.

July 20, 2011

The Snail Kite

This bird has no luck!
It was chased out of its ancestral home in Lake Okeechobee by severe drought and severe greed by those who drained the lake over countless protests.
Water levels on Okeechobee declined to the point where the Snail Kite and its primary food source, the Apple Snail, could no longer survive.
So the beleaguered Snail Kite went north and found a new home on Lake Toho, where surprisingly it began to flourish, for a while.
But once again, humans interfered.
The local boaters angry about Hydrilla in the lake that were causing their boats to sputter, asked FWS to step in and eliminate the bothersome plant.
This plant however, is the favorite food of the Apple Snail, which is the favorite food of the Snail Kite.
So, you see the problem?
Instead of wiping out the plant population completely, a compromise plan was devised to try to keep the peace and a balance between the two.
Surviving that dilemma for the moment, now comes a new human attack that will most likely force the Kite out of its new home permanently.
This new invader comes in the form of Airboat Tours on the lake.
The plan is to have at least 20 of them running every day, all filled with tourists.
If you have never heard these things running, think of standing next to a jackhammer or a wood chipper.
The local homeowners are angry because they have beautiful homes on the lake which up until now, has been peaceful and quiet.
While the homeowners will probably not die from the hideous noises and the huge crowds, the same cannot be said for the Snail Kite.
If this Airboat Tours business is permitted to set up shop on Lake Toho, it will be the end of the Kite, which has been run out of town before by humans with little concern for their welfare.
If you live near Lake Toho and are able, perhaps you might wish to show up at the next Commission Meeting on September 19th, that will decide whether this group will be allowed to begin the end of an Endangered wildlife and the tranquility of a beautiful wild area.
Read about the Airboat Tours Issue here:
Residents Fight to Stop Tourist Attraction on Lake Toho

If you do plan on attending the next meeting, here is contact information:
Osceola County Government  407 742-2000
County Commissioner: Frank Attkisson District 4 - Lake Toho
The last meeting to address the Airboat Tours Issue was held July 18th and was then continued for 60 days.
See the meeting results live here:
The next meeting to address this subject will be September 19th at 5:30 PM
in Commission Chambers (4th Floor)
I Courthouse Square
Kissimmee, Florida
Let's All Be There in September!

July 17, 2011

Leatherback Sea Turtle Nest Counts Are Up in Florida

As was reported locally on the news this week, this season is another good one for Florida's largest Sea Turtle, the Leatherback.
Thankfully their nest counts are up here, but the news in other places like Mexico and Costa Rica is not so good, in fact they are in a steep decline there and Scientists in these areas, believe that extinction may be a great possibility.

July 14, 2011

A Tea Party Made to Order for the Mad Hatter

If this seems incredulous, join the crowd.
A story in the Saint Pete Times reports that the Edna Mattos and members of the Citrus County Tea Party believe that a new proposal by FWS to protect the Manatees will "elevate nature above people and that is against the bible and the bill of rights."
It's a good thing that Edna never tried to have an audience with Mahatma Gandhi, who firmly believed that animals were more important than some of the heads of state who came to visit him at his ashram.
His timeless quote still rings true, for me at least, today, "The greatness of a Nation and its moral progress, can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Perhaps the Citrus County Tea Party and its members, should seek another way to promote their questionable ideology?

July 11, 2011

Can Wildlife and the Power of the Future Co-Exist?

There are two related stories to report on today that sadden me.
As a huge believer in the new power direction the world must take to free us forever from oil and oil mongers, this seems like a step backwards.
The development of new energy sources must keep moving forward, but the cost to our endangered wildlife cannot exceed the promise these new powers sources hold.
Technology of the future must always keep wildlife safety in mind during the design period and with these recent reports of wildlife harm, it is back to the drawing board.

July 8, 2011

The Wild Things Are On Their Own Now

This story reflects the huge gap between the White House and Environmentalists right now.
Not sure what, or if, anything will stave this off, as long as they are all so focused on fighting each other to the death in Congress over Budget cuts and Taxes.
No one wants to spend a dime on anything that will not support either a candidate's campaign or a lobbyists pet projects.
No one can profit from saving an Endangered animal or plant, so why should they care.

July 5, 2011

Yellowstone River

Today's comment is not about Florida's wildlife, it is about the wildlife in a place that has been close to my heart for many years, Yellowstone.
If you have never been to the Yellowstone area, you may want to get a ticket soon, while it still remains one of the most pristine, breathtaking places on Earth.
Over the weekend one of the most egregious polluters of our lifetime did it again.
Exxon Mobil has once again putrefied a perfect water source for wildlife in an area whose size is yet to be determined.
This is because they at first tried to downplay the actual damage and reported that it was not really that much of a problem.
But then this morning, as was the case with the destruction in Alaska in 1989, it was much worse than Exxon originally claimed.
Can anyone remember back to the first day of the BP spill, when it was claimed that no oil was leaking at all?
At this time, the Yellowstone River which runs through some of the most beautiful land known to humans, is running black with oil sludge.
The story is everywhere now and it will probably get worse as time goes on.
Who will suffer the most of course, are the area wildlife, as this is their main drinking source.
What will it take to get Exxon Mobil and their counterparts to respect wildlife and wildland?
No one in Washington will punish them, they are all too dependant on their campaign money.
Environmental groups can only take them to court, but the result of this will as usual, only be fines paid, harsh words and then it's back to the game at hand, making money drilling and pumping oil, everywhere.
Like the story below this one, eventually we may be unable to reverse the damage done and we could all be without the lifeblood of life, clean, pure, water.

July 2, 2011

It's All About the Water

Was going to take a break until after the Holiday, but this could not wait.
After reading the story below, I knew I would be writing today.
Those of you who read this Blog know of my deep concern for Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.
They have both suffered severely at the hands of greedy, selfish Humans for so long that it may already be too late to save either.
This of course is not even considering the wildlife at both places who have already been displaced for lack of food.
Everything leaves when the water levels drop to where they are now and have been for years.
Habitats are destroyed and wildlife moves on hoping for a better place to live in peace.
This story only describes the truth that we all knew was there, being carefully, deliberately, hidden behind closed political doors.
As I have said many times in my life, water isn't the only thing in life that matters, it's just the most important.
California has been poisoning their water for nearly a century now and the cancer deaths and sickness in the entire state are the result.
As my favorite Geology Professor at CSUN once said, what they have done to the water in the San Joaquin Valley will take 10,000 years to correct.
We are out of time people, wake up.
Water is the lifeblood of  all living things.
It must be protected because money can not buy it back once it is poisoned.

July 1, 2011

Two Exciting Events to Report on Today

The first is about new live broadcasts from the combined talents of Wild Earth and Ustream with seven subject choices:
The other shows how big companies can make a big difference in helping Endangered or Threatened Wildlife by putting their money where their mouths are: