Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

November 30, 2011

It's the Right Time for Whale Watching

Once again, we will be heading back to the Beach to hopefully, finally, get our first glimpse of the most highly Endangered Whale on this Planet, the North Atlantic Right Whale.
This week, they are heading south for the winter to our area for their annual birthing process.
Earlier this year we made three trips to the Atlantic Coast, hoping to be able to see one as they headed North for the summer, but we came up empty each time.
Maybe this time, we will get lucky.
If you also wish to see this remarkable mammal, whose numbers constantly remain between 350-400, you had better head for the South East Coast of Florida, soon.

November 27, 2011

There Are Two sides to the Python Dilemma in Florida

Our Senator Bill Nelson has just sent a letter to President Obama asking him to speed up the process for including the Burmese and other Pythons on the FWS's injurious species list.
Now, this may seem like a positive step in the direction of eliminating a species which has become the single most destructive force in the Everglades or other sensitive Ecosystems in Florida, but wait ........
The FWS is more than just a little apprehensive about this idea, saying that this may cause even more of them to be dumped into our wild places, mostly our lakes, swamps and rivers.
If this regulation is implemented, dealers would not be able to turn the snakes over to FWS, as they have no plans for accepting them.
You can guess what the fate of the snakes will be then.
FWS says they will only have an occasional, non native species turn in, or no questions asked, "amnesty days" throughout Florida.
Most Floridians have become aware of the history of these dangerous snakes and people are abandoning them as fast as they can, wherever.
These snakes are now being dumped all over our state, killed by dealers, collectors and owners who have either become afraid of them or simply don't want to feed them anymore.
Because of all of the negative news surrounding them, Pythons are no longer the fast money makers that they used to be.
These snakes, through no fault of their own, have become an enemy to be eradicated.
Trust me, I do not care for these types of snakes, but this all seems so sick and just mean.
What we need are rules/laws in place that will stop the sale or possession of these invasive Pythons anywhere in Florida, period.
Once that is done, these money grubbers will have to look elsewhere to make a quick buck and no more snakes will be murdered or worse, dumped into the Florida Everglades or our other Ecosystems, which are right now overrun with them.
It is one giant mess.

November 24, 2011

Does This Seem A Silly or Selfish Question?

I know that this may seem selfish or silly, but could someone please explain why we in Lake County or any county in Florida for that matter, must adhere to a very strict watering code, while we are giving away our very precious water to out of state companies who take millions of gallons out of the ground here daily for free?
I read in our paper a few days ago, that we must all go back to one day a week watering from now until Spring, when our "wet season" returns.
These water companies who came here, brought in most of their own employees to work, so therefore did not help with the Florida jobless problem, then they take our water and bottle it to sell to the world and pay Florida nothing for this?
This all makes those of us who live here, pay taxes and conserve water, feel pretty angry and yet no one running this state seems to mind, why is that?

November 21, 2011

Today is a Threefer!

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has recently released three new management/regulation plans to be reviewed, considered and commented on by the public.
I hope that you will take action on one or all of these, as there are implications of potential negative impact on each individual animal, if the public says or does nothing.
Please remember that they have no voice, except for yours.
The FWC links follow for each individual issue and animal involved in it:

November 18, 2011

Endangered Species News Bulletin

If like me, you are very concerned with the way that our wild things and wild places are being treated, this bi-monthly newsletter may be of interest to you.
The first link is for the bulletin and the second is for the sign up page:

November 15, 2011

Great Story For Those of Us Who Love Birds

This has been a good week for really well written stories about Endangered Florida species.
Today's is about the elusive Red Cockaded Woodpecker, which at one point was nearly wiped off the face of the Earth, but now is making a brave return due to the vigilance of the USFWS and some really dedicated human friends.
Luckily for us, the most important requirement for this bird are the old longleaf pines, which thankfully can still be found here in the Ocala National Forest.
These magnificent trees once made up most of the U.S. Southeastern woodlands, but were, like the birds who love them, nearly decimated by human greed.
Thank you to Bryan Stevens, for one of the best articles written in a long time about an Endangered bird, who is now on a mission to make it!
BTW Bryan, I share your feelings about the Ivory Billed.

November 12, 2011

The Florida Scrub Jay

This excellent work by Tom Palmer of the Lakeland Ledger, is one of the best articles to come out in a long time about the only indigenous bird of Florida, the Scrub Jay.
These birds, as have many other species in the state, have been chased from place to place, all over the state, as the builders, contractors and strip malls have moved in and pushed them out.
Too many of Florida's Ecosystems have become concrete playgrounds for the wealthy visitors who come, enjoy and go home without a thought to what their pleasures have cost our wildlife.
As Palmer so correctly points out, the Scrub Jay is a barometer on the health of Florida's fragile scrub lands, much of which are contained within the Lake Wales Ridge, which is also home to many other endangered species, including the sand skink, the gopher tortoise and the scrub morning glory.
So, if the Scrub Jay and the scrub lands are in serious jeopardy, what does that mean for the rest of Florida?
It means that it's time for all of us who live here year round to get off of our behinds and start writing, calling and bringing the kind of noise now on Wall Street to the white sandy beaches of Florida, only this time it's about saving the wild places and wild things, who cannot camp out on the sidewalks of New York or D.C.

November 9, 2011

The Whooping Cranes Have Left Wisconsin and Are Heading South

We in Central Florida have a very personal history with this magnificent bird and none of us will ever forget the violent night of storms and deadly tornados that killed 17 of them and 20 humans on Feb. 2, 2007.
What we here in the Ocala Forest area did not know was, the same tornado that passed over our house that night, taking human lives and leaving massive destruction behind, had already hit the West Coast Wildlife Refuge where the Endangered Cranes lived and had taken a tragic toll there first.
But today is all about hope and eager anticipation, as the Whooping Cranes are once again making their way south and their progress is being followed by several groups.
These three web sites have very detailed descriptions of the Whooping Crane, as well as great resources for learning more about them:

November 5, 2011

A Favorite New Blog Alert!!

Ok, I have just found a very cool Blog that should satisfy even the most die hard prehistoric science junkies.
You know, the ones who drool over Terra Nova, Avatar, Jurassic Park and the like, yes, myself included.
This unique Blog, comes to you from the great minds at Scientific American, which was a personal favorite reading all through college.
Today's posting is dedicated to the ancient ones of this Earth and reading it made me want to head north to Gainesville to the Natural History Museum at the University of Florida.
If you haven't yet been to the Gator Woman Fossil page, please try to take a look at it and then enjoy all of this tasty fossil matter~

November 2, 2011

Do You Know Bill Maxwell? If You Don't, You Should!

We are very fortunate that our local paper,  The Daily Commercial, runs his column.
Bill is a Native Floridian, a passionate man and most of the time, dead on in his editorials.
But this week, he has made comments that were a little unexpected.
He wrote about the beautiful wild places and wild creatures of our state and surprise, he loves them enough to lay it all out there in his column.
Maxwell writes for the St. Pete Times and running this story in a state, where hunters rule and their lobbyists take no prisoners, took no small amount of courage.
Bill's story is sure to invoke severe criticism from those who fiercely defend their right to "kill at will" and blast any who dare to stand against them.
Bless you Bill, you are one of the few writers here who is willing to take a stand for protecting those who have no voice:
our wild things, our wild places, our Wild Florida.
And, for those who don't like it, they can, well you know.......