Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

December 30, 2012

2012, A Most Tumultuous, Turbulent Year

 Florida's Natural Beauty
The Florida Everglades, Protecting Paradise

This was a frequently unnerving year for those of us who care for wild anything's.
Politicians and Lobbyists have been fighting non stop to undo any and all safeguards for animals and plants in every state in America.
So where do we stand right now?
Sometimes, the players are barely recognizable, but money is clearly the controlling factor in it all.
Not sure if it is a good or bad thing, but the number one recipient of my 2012 emails, etc.
Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, has just notified Washington that that she is out.
Who will take her place?
My greatest fear is that it could be the former lawyer for Monsanto, Michael Taylor,
who has a vise grip on the FDA's food policies right now and has been pushing GMO foods hard.
What ever your opinion on GMO's, the final word is that we still just don't really know if they are safe or not and until we do, no one should be forced to eat them without their consent or knowledge.
Say hello to 2013, we all could use a little break~

December 23, 2012

If only.....

 A Florida Panther
              Our Florida Panther

This has been a good year for so many of Florida's Endangered or Threatened wildlife,
and if only this posting could end right here.
But tragically, this has been the very worst year on record for our
beautiful Florida Panthers and as of today, 25 have been killed.
We do not have 25 of them to spare.
So many people and organizations are dedicated to saving this beautiful animal,
that when they keep dying in spite of all of the precautions, protections and safety efforts,
it is just so disheartening.
Areas have been set aside just for them, conservation laws have been put in place just for them,
heaven and earth have been moved for them, but they simply cannot overcome the
single deadliest occurrence that continues to take most of their lives, humans driving cars.
Of the 25 Panthers killed this year, 17 were killed by cars.
This is an unacceptable outrage.
The Florida Panther is without a doubt, the most Endangered animal in North America,
perhaps in the world and it is appalling that with all of our advanced scientific technology,
Conservation organizations and indefatigably devoted Biologists and volunteers,
that we cannot seem to stop their continual deaths.
What else, what more, can we do?
Well some one, some group, some agency, had better come up with a new idea, an effective
working plan and soon because there are now barely only one hundred or so of them left.
And one day very soon, this critically Endangered mammal's extremely small gene pool
could lead to the physical anomalies that may end the species altogether.

December 16, 2012

Keep Your Grimy, Greedy Paws Off Of Our State!

 A Florida Manatee
       A Florida Manatee

Today's posting is something that needs to be said for those of you who do not live in the  " Sunshine State. "
Today is simply the last straw, as far as I am concerned, with continual interference from outsiders, in what should concern only the residents of this state.
This latest affront comes from a California group trying to interfere in Florida wildlife matters.
This time it is about our beloved Endangered Manatees and this group wants to have them taken off of the Endangered Species List because too many boaters and others are being "inconvenienced" by the rules put in place to protect them.
This mess will end up in court, of course and will take time to hash out, but that is not what is most important here.
What matters most, is that once again an outsider is trying to take control away from Florida about something they should have no business in control of to begin with.
The beautiful Silver Springs area is being run by a California company and there is a lot of confusion right now about exactly what is to become of this natural wonder.
California has a contract to keep running the tour boats there for many years to come, so who knows what will become of the Springs.
And then there is, again, a California water bottling company here in Lake County that has been allowed to set up their company for  "free" and drain our precious water supply to send it out of state and all over the country.
We have had a serious drought here this year and water levels are at dangerous levels right now and yet this out of state company continues pumping it out of the ground, " for free. "
It is exasperating for those who are trying so hard to protect the fragile eco-systems here, only to see the complete disrespect shown by these outsiders for everything that we treasure.
One thing is very clear to all of us though, money and greed are at the root of it all.
Those with the most money, are buying the right to run amuck in our state and we are losing this wondrous place that we love to greedy outsiders.

December 9, 2012

Something Special to Share

 The Everglades, just one part of Florida's Natural Beauty.
        The Florida Everglades

As you can imagine, I receive hundreds of emails each week with news and
stories about wildlife and the environment, but recently one particular Blog
and posting impressed me so much, that I wanted to share it with you.
This Blog comes from the people at the Endangered Species Coalition,
a powerful watch dog organization that continually keeps everyone involved
with wildlife and the environment in its crosshairs.
Fearing no one and no agency, this group has worked diligently for many
years to protect and preserve all that is beautiful here on Planet Earth.
This particular Blog posting is concerned with water, which as you know,
if you are a regular reader of my Blogs, is one of my highest priority topics
because water is the alpha and omega to every living thing on our Earth.
So let me introduce you to my newest favorite Blog and
this very important recent Posting by Mitch Merry:

December 2, 2012

When All Of The Water Is Brown~

 Alexander Springs, near my home in the Ocala Forest.
      Beautiful Alexander Springs

Reading this story has scared me enough to engage in a personal campaign
to bring public awareness to this alarming, impending Florida disaster.
The beautiful natural springs that have always made Florida a rare and
treasured place to live and visit, are disappearing and/or turning toxic.
As a Florida resident of only the past eight years, I know that I don't speak with
the level of authority of those born and raised here, but even someone new can
see that this is going to end badly for every living thing in this state.
Please read this story and if you care about water, and you should care a lot about your water,
for the love of everything alive on the Planet, get involved in reversing this eco-train wreck.
Water is the only thing that matters, when it ceases, so does all life.

November 25, 2012

Who Isn't A Sucker For A Baby Turtle?

 A Loggerhead Hatchling
I always go out of my way to look for any news stories about Sea Turtles  because they
are just so darn easy to love.
This year was a record breaker for turtle hatchings in Florida, so when Hurricane Sandy came,
my first thoughts were of them, hoping that they could survive the onslaught of the storm.
But, thankfully, I didn't have a great deal to worry about because most of them had already
hatched and gone out to sea to begin their new lives before Sandy ever got here.
Yes, there were some scattered reports of some nests and babies being lost, but considering the enormity, the overwhelming scope of this disaster, it could have been so much worse for many of them.
Georgia State Wildlife Biologist Mark Dodd, says that losses from storms are
" a part of the turtle's natural life cycle. "
As the massive storm neared each area projected to be affected, biologists and volunteers quickly went to work rescuing baby turtles all along the East Coast.
Overall, Sea Turtle numbers are still quite strong.
Thankfully, they dodged a really big one this time, so we will all be able to enjoy their presence for many years to come on our beautiful Atlantic Coast Beaches.

November 18, 2012

Hoping For A Better Year For The Right Whale

 Right Whale Mother and Calf
Last year was a really bad year for this most Endangered Whale on the planet, with only six calves being born, making it the lowest number of births in 10 years.
Average has been at about 20 per year, so this was a fairly dramatic drop.
Experts are now waiting, watching and hoping that this years numbers will improve.
The thinking for last years alarming low birth rate was the poor food supplies near Canada, where they feed until coming south to Florida and Georgia to give birth to their calves.
Here in Florida, the viewing or whale watching season for the Right Whales' birthing migration, goes from the middle of November until about the end of March.
This most endangered whale still has worrisome numbers at about 400, so this season may prove to be another nail biter for devoted whale lovers.
It seems that their only enemies are the US Navy and the big ships that insist on invading their meager travel lanes along the Atlantic Coast.
Come on, can't we give them some room to stay alive in?
We have gone up the Coast to Flagler twice to see them pass by, with no luck.
Whether we get to see them or not, here's hoping they go forth and multiply~

November 11, 2012

The Florida Wildlife Corridor

 Marjory Stoneman Douglas 1965
For those of you who do not have the privilege of being a resident of the Sunshine State, this story about a new Exhibit may give you an insiders look at the reasons we Floridians fight so hard to protect the Natural Beauty that is found here.
The beautiful pictures on display illustrate the things we have here that are nowhere else and why we will not ever give up, or give in.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas and former Governor Lawton Chiles were only two of many dedicated Wildlife protectors, who have defended Florida against those who meant to strip her beauty barren.
The Photographic Exhibit will be on display in Museum of Botany and Arts in Sarasota, until just about the end of this month.
If you can, please take a short journey to the Gulf Coast to see the "real" Florida and learn about the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

November 4, 2012

About Next Tuesday.....

 Florida's Natural Beauty
Next Tuesday voters in this Country will be making choices that will affect not only their lives, but those of the Planet and the things that live in and on it.
These are the non human items that take forever to get on a Ballot and then become so changed over time, that their supporters barely recognize them.
In every state across this vast land, there will be so many issues and agendas represented on these ballots, that making correct choices for them will be made quite difficult.
In some cases, this is very deliberate, in others, perhaps not.
The point is, that as a free country or Democracy, we are supposed to have freedom of choice, this is one of those civil rights all Americans are guaranteed by the 15th Amendment of the Constitution.
This is where the confusion begins.
Somehow along the way, Amendments, Addendums and the like, have been allowed to become so deliberately confusing, that many feel only a lawyer could really decipher them.
So, your Ballots next week will have not only human choices, but written ones as well.
They have been put in place and written very carefully to hide in some cases, things that you may not have chosen, if you had understood what they really said.
Confused yet?
This is no accident, and this mess is called the Electoral process.
What a strange definition for deceit this has all become.
So, what am I trying to say, you may implore?
Merely this, for God's sake and for the sake of every living thing that has no voice, read and understand what you are voting for in that booth on Tuesday.
A great deal is at stake for them too.
And one last thing that was just on our news this morning, if you leave any boxes blank on your Ballot, some unscrupulous person may just fill them in for you!
Please do think about that before leaving any boxes blank or unchecked!

October 28, 2012

What Does Clean Water Mean To You And Me?

 Florida's Everglades National Park
As we celebrate the Clean Water Act this month, two things are really bugging me.
First, wildlife is still dying in the Gulf from the Eco-nightmare that the selfish oil people made of a spectacularly beautiful place, I know this because I have swam in the Gulf and been in awe of its pristine beauty for many years.
Oh,  you thought that BP and the nice oil people took care of the mess that they made there?
Think again, they have not.
Then there is our ever besieged Everglades Ecosystem, which is still fighting for its life everyday against the overwhelming big money machines that run South Florida, who see this entire area as only a minor impediment on their way to paving over and building over everything natural in the state.
Do I sound just a little hostile, you bet.
The Gulf and the Everglades have a great deal in common, neither of them can vote or write big checks to polluters, so they are abused and pushed aside.
It is up to those of us with opposable thumbs to speak up and vote and do whatever it takes to stop these big money Wildlife Butchers.
If Marjorie were alive today, she would be at the head of the line taking all of these people on, but she has waged her last battle.
God Bless her for the many, many years that she fought against them, she was devoted to saving the Everglades.
When will we get a Governor, or any politicians in this state, who will stand up to the Sugar people, the builders and the legions of selfish people who care nothing about the future of Florida and its wonderful natural beauty, only where their next check or guilty pleasure is coming from?
Our Environment cannot protect or defend itself, it needs us to speak and act on its behalf, now!
There, got that out of my system.

October 21, 2012

The Joys And Sorrows Of Fall In The Forest

     Green Anole     A Female Green Treefrog     Harriet, our Gopher Tortoise.

Finally this morning, the day that we all wait for came, the temperature this morning here in the Ocala Forest was a crispy 49 degrees.
Now this was a joyous event for those of us who have suffered for the past six months in 90+ degrees,
98% humidity here, but for the beloved critters
around my house, it is now time for "see 'ya later."
None of my "children" the tiny green treefrogs or the beautiful green lizards (anoles) have shown up for the past two days on the front porch or been spied climbing up the lattice at the edge of it, where they usually love to hang out all day.
For all of them, I guess it is time to find a warm place to wait it out.
Surprisingly though, our Gopher Tortoise "Harriet," who has been MIA for several months, has now decided to reappear in the front yard, eating ferociously every day this week.
Not sure what this means, usually she disappears right about now for the winter?
It has been a strange summer for all of us, extremely hot and dry, where it should be tropical.
Not very good for anything that walks, crawls or flies around here.
Our lakes have all suffered and the wildlife right along with them from the extreme drought.
So, this new season that is now apparently finally upon us, brings the usual double edged sword, better weather for humans, but a going away party for the creatures we love so much.

October 7, 2012

Does The Environment Or Endangered Wildlife Matter To Either President Obama Or Mitt Romney?

 President Obama and Mitt Romney

This is a serious subject for many, but few politicians seem willing to risk their
carefully controlled standings this year to support such a low value return issue.
In fact, this subject is so low on the ladder list of 2012 Campaign Issues,
that you would have to dig down under the ground to get to it.
In 2012, the political silence on the Environment is deafening.
I have watched the debate and listened to the non stop barrage of ugly words
on TV for months, but one thing I can't seem to find in any of it, is even the
slightest concern for the Planet and the living things on it by these two men,
one of whom will be President of this country very soon.
Why is that, I wonder?
The staggering, obscene amounts of money these two have raised could feed
an entire country for years, I am sure.
But instead of going for good, this endless bank account is paying for even more ugly,
vicious words to be endured by an already Campaign saturated American public.
And yet, for all of the words spoken, not one of them is ever concerning one of the most fragile
issues of them all, our Global Ecosystems.
When did we stop caring for living beings and begin to covet only material things?
When all that is truly wondrous has ceased to be, will the money stuffed into
the campaign war chests of these two men buy us all a new world?
The Ark has already left the building~

September 30, 2012

The Cranes Are Coming!

Whooping Cranes in flight
The Critically Endangered Whooping Crane

Will Fall Ever Arrive In Florida?
After a much needed break, I am back, refreshed and ready to begin anew~
The Calendar says that Fall has officially begun, but it will be over 90 degrees
here in Central Florida again today, so where is our Fall?
Today's posting concerns a very eagerly awaited and always hopeful Annual Event,
the Whooping Cranes are finally on their way back down to Florida.
This incredible web site is dedicated to the Annual Whooping Crane Migration:
And, if you would like to follow the Crane's journey south back to Florida:

September 17, 2012

When You Need A Break From Your Life~

 The Bean Blossom Covered Bridge
The Bean Blossom Covered Bridge

We have been gone for the past two weeks and have ignored our Blogs and computers pretty much completely.
This is quite a feat, since we each have two Blogs and Facebook pages that seem to occupy way too much of our time lately.
Our trip to the heartland of this country, namely my home town of Indianapolis, was supposed to be for a family reunion, but it turned out to be so much more.
Going home for me has always been a double edged sword, I love my family and my childhood home, but usually, something unexpected happens to make me wish that I had gone somewhere else.
Not this time.
This time, the reunion was basically flawless family good times and absolutely nothing negative happened to cause me to yearn for the Keys or anywhere but home.
It seems that as you get older, everything falls into place, more or less.
The really silly things that you worried about in the past, just don't seem quite as important and the terribly important things, people, are brought sharply into focus.
This trip redefined my relationships with those I grew up with and made me truly appreciate the ones who had never been in the forefront until now.
But, if you asked me for the moment in time on this trip that began this process of change, it would have been when we turned down a wrong road in the country trying so hard to find a covered bridge and found instead two perfectly beautiful deer standing on the dirt road.
They gave us a quick look, then wandered slowly away through a field of golden amber flowers, ears flicking, just nibbling and watching.
After seeing them, finding that bridge, which we did moments later, seemed not quite so important.
Then, the next day, a cousin who has been extremely ill, and had been heavy on my mind since learning of her condition at the reunion, just appeared at an ice cream shop several of us had stopped at after visiting the grave sites of some of our ancestors that day.
Yes, we were in her neighborhood, but we never, ever, expected to have her just show up there.
It was all overwhelming and very emotional.
Seeing her that day, put the whole trip into proper perspective.
No matter where you go, if you open your eyes and your heart and just appreciate life, it all comes into focus.
Life that is.

August 26, 2012

Paradise Comes With A Price

Today's Blog is about what is happening to our state right now, Hurricane Isaac.
We haven't had one this close in a bit, so everyone is nervous.
Not knowing is the worst part.
The "isolated" tornadoes thrown off of the "feeder" bands,
are what we here in the Ocala Forest would most like to forget about,
especially those who live in Lake Mack and Lady Lake,
who lost so many that terrible February night in 2007.
We have dealt with the terror of tornados coming in the dark of night
and the memories are still very strong for some of us.
So, if you are reading this from the quiet, safe shelter of your home,
please give the state of Florida and those who live here, on two legs or four,
a moment of your time today and wish us all a safe passage
through the night tonight and in the morning tomorrow.
We thank you and as Tim Tebow always says, "God Bless."

August 19, 2012

So Many Babies And Counting~

  A Loggerhead Hatchling

What a joy it is to report this kind of story for a change.
It gets very old, day after day, talking about the countless tragedies involving
Endangered Wildlife here in Florida, but this is all so good!
There are Loggerheads, Leatherbacks and Greens, all are either Threatened
or Endangered and all are producing offspring this season in the highest numbers
that have been seen in the state in many years.
So many Floridians have done so much for them for so long and this year,
finally, they can pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
Protective and Environmental groups all across the state have worked tirelessly
to make this happen and this years "bumper crop" is their reward!
These groups and random strangers have done everything from " lights out at night, "
to eliminating traps, trash and nets that can harm the Turtles.
Is this the beginning of a new upswing for a precarious group of reptiles that
has teetered on the brink of decimation for so very long?
Only time will tell, and as the experts here are saying,
" let's wait to see if they come back next year to make more babies! "

August 11, 2012

What Are A Few Bombs Among Friends, Right?

Harriet, our resident Gopher Tortoise.  A Florida Scrub Jay  A Sand Skink  A Florida Scrub Morning Glory
Scrub Morning Glory photo: Scott Zona
When a team of "five environmental experts," goes onto a bombing range to determine
the status of some Threatened or Endangered species, is this dedication or ??
Recently this group went onto the Pinecastle Range here in the Ocala Forest near where
we live, to see the effects the Navy bombing has had on several threatened species.
The areas easily accessible to the group, yielded a poor sampling, but when they got into a
military Humvee and went further in, they found a better representation of these species,
which includedgopher tortoisesscrub jays,  sand skinks
I am not sure what all of this really means to those doing the hunting,
but for those of us who live here in the normally tranquil Ocala Forest,
we can assure them that we humans are being very disturbed.
Every time they start their bombing "practices," our walls shake and our Airedale goes nuts.
We always know before our enemies do, when they are about to get bombed.
So, if we are this disturbed and are about 40-50 miles away from the Range,
I can only imagine how frightened the animals are that live at ground zero.
The Jets are supposed to be using computers, not live bombs,
but I can't imagine any computer that exists today,
that could shake our house from that far way~

August 8, 2012

It's Crunch Time In Tallahassee, Where Need Meets Greed!

 The Green Swamp Preserve
The Green Swamp Preserve, a part of Florida Forever.
Photo credit: John Moran/John Moran Photo.com
Eric Draper, the head of Audubon Florida, along with several other environmental
groups has just launched a campaign to get a constitutional amendment put on the ballot.
Republicans have been doing a hack job on Florida Forever,
to the tune of 97.5 % and making it just about impossible to protect
our land and water, as this program was originally set up to do.
The money to pay for the program comes from tax stamps, which comes
from home sales and we all know how the housing market has been.
So, when Republicans need a little extra money for odd and ends in Tallahassee,
they "borrow" it from this Environmental program.
It will take over 600,000 signatures to get this Amendment put on the Ballot
and if approved it would go into effect in 2015.
There's not too much at stake here, just the decision as to whether or not,
we are going to safeguard any land or water at all,
to pass on to the next generation of Floridians.
Oh, so that would be the present generations legacy, right?
And, what if this Amendment fails?
What does that say about us here in the present?

August 5, 2012

The Blessings~

 My daughter, me,  my sister and our Mother on the beach in Florida many years ago.
This week with no pressing, or alarming Endangered Wildlife crisis to write about,
my thoughts turned to the many blessings that we here in Florida have and I
wanted to share them with those of you not fortunate enough to live here.
Number one, coming from thirty years of living and working in Los Angeles, fresh clean air.
Next, an array of stunning wildlife, the likes of which are rarely ever seen, anywhere on Earth.
An abundance of pure, clean, clear water, on both sides of us,
the Atlantic on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico on the West.
When you think about this, we are so very lucky here, we can drive
for just a short time and be in paradise on a Coast.
For a lucky few, we are already there.
I have been coming here since the early 1970's when my parents first moved here
and as they moved around looking for, like the three little bears,
"just the right place" to spend their remaining days, I have through them,
seen nearly every nook and cranny of this gorgeous state.
I knew, even back then in the '70's, that one day, just like the little bears,
I would find my own "just the right place" here too.
Well, now it is 2012 and we all did find our special place
and for us, at least, it is here in the Ocala Forest.
Welcome to our paradise, welcome to our Florida.
Please, please, leave it as good as, or better than, you found it.
The two leggeds, four leggeds and winged ones all over this state thank you.
Please Keep Florida Wildlife Wild And Alive.

August 2, 2012

Ever Thought About Joining A Facebook Wildlife Group?

A Roseate Spoonbill     A Florida Grasshopper Sparrow     A Florida Wood Stork     A Florida Snail Kite
Today I would like to share something not specifically about one particular
species of Endangered Wildlife, but about groups that you might wish
to join on Facebook that are each themselves dedicated to one topic.
I have just joined all of these groups and some others as well and have found
the photography, conversations and people involved, to be remarkable.
If you have one animal or cause that you are passionate about,
I highly recommend that you look at the names of the groups below for ideas.
If what you seek is not there, Google the topic of your hearts desire and go for it.
You have nothing to lose and may be delighted at the results, just as I was.
So, go get involved~

July 30, 2012

Have You Met The Grasshopper Sparrow?

Probably not, because this tiny bird that is found
nowhere else on earth, except the Everglades,   
A Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
A Grasshopper Sparrow
is having a really hard time, just stayin' alive!
The usual factors contributing to the demise
of the Grasshopper Sparrow, are loss of habitat
and intrusion by humans, in addition to fire ants and
flooding from the water pouring into the Everglades.
This sweet song of this very tiny, most common species
of bird, is what makes it so unique in the bird world.
Its song imitates the grasshopper's sound and so bring
females to it by deception.
So, if it wasn't bad enough with all that this bird in distress has going against it,
now people are complaining that the Everglades is having its water source "wasted"
because some of it is being diverted out to sea by FWS, to keep the nests of the birds
ancestral homes from being flooded out.
The bird did not ask for any of this, but it is being blamed none the less.
Can we at least be fair here?
The amount of water being "wasted" on this critically Endangered bird,
can not begin to compare with the amount that is being "truly wasted"
by some of the greedy humans of South Florida!

July 27, 2012

Why Can't The Everglades Ever Get A Break?

Just about the time you think,
well maybe things are getting better,
some very disturbing news just arrived
Florida's Everglades National Park
The Florida Everglades
from Audubon of Florida.
In Miami today, Audubon of Florida will
take on the bullies who want to pour
the nastiest, most polluted, chemical laden
water in this state into the Everglades.
The three worst farms in the Everglades Habitat area,
want to dump their toxic waste into the pristine waters
of the Everglades and few people even knew this was
about to take place.
The phosphorus in discharged farm water, is by Florida law,
required to be reduced by 25%, but these three farms are not playing by the
rules and neither, it seems, is the South Florida Water Management District.
Like the St. John's Water group, SFWMD may have become too big
and too powerful, and in ever more increasing fashion, both are
behaving like they are not only above the law, but can make or change
the rules at will, with no repercussions from the public, or anyone else either.
While some farms are doing the right thing for all of Florida's waterways,
the ones who cheat and those people who are supposed to be watching them,
are making it nearly impossible to ever bring this Paradise known as the Everglades,
back from the brink of the disastrous onslaught of pollution from chemicals and toxins.
The Everglades really does need to get a break!
Any Questions?
A PDF is here:
Or write to Jonathon Webber,
Conservation Campaign Manager
Or call: 850 222-2473

July 24, 2012

The Wood Stork May Get Room To Stretch Its Wings~

A pond or small lake with an island in it,
A Florida Wood Stork
A Florida Wood Stork
within the Perico Preserve will soon become
a new nesting habitat for some of Florida's
most Threatened or Endangered birds, like little
blue herons, snowy egrets and white ibis and the
most eagerly anticipated member, who may
hopefully join this list, is also one of Florida's most
Endangered birds, the Wood Stork.
The new Manatee County Rookery, which should be finished by July 2013, will have the island in the middle, to deter the rats and raccoons who would pose a significant threat in the rearing of little ones, for parent birds.
Construction on this new home for Florida's winged ones in trouble,
will begin in about two months.
Stay tuned for updates~