Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

January 30, 2012

Bald Eagles and Pesticides

At Kennedy Space Center
Florida has now become a Bald Eagle paradise. 
We see them nearly every single time that we leave the house
and sometimes we don't even have to do that.
Very rarely one will just soar over our house on its way to the nearest water.
So, of course, they are everywhere here in Lake County near the Ocala National Forest.
Duh, their primary food source is fish!
You can spot their terribly messy, huge nests from quite a distance away.
And every year they just keep adding on to it, until it finally collapses under the weight of it all and they simply rebuild.
Seeing them sitting casually on the top of a sign or on a lamp post is, for a person who once upon a time would drive for miles just for the hope of finding one, miraculous.
Watching them soar overhead while driving can make keeping the car on the road a challenge.
The reason for the remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction for the Bald Eagle, was the complete ban of the use of the hideous pesticide, DDT.
We have seen just in this one particular species, the Bald Eagle, the alpha and the omega.
Why don't we get it?
Pesticides are evil and they must be eradicated if we and they are to survive.
Pesticides are everywhere, in everything, they are in our water, in our food, in the air that we breathe and worse for me personally, in our pets foods.
Pesticides have been linked to and are believed to be a primary cause of many types of cancers.
The San Joaquin Valley in California, the land of super farms, has one small town, McFarland, where the incidence of leukemia in children under six, was 80%.
And this was just one example, of so many, of what pesticides can do.
If you, like me, would like to see a world without pesticides, perhaps you could write a letter to the President, your elected politician, a newspaper or whatever, but please, say something, do something.
Remember the slogan for the big chemical company "better living through Chemistry?"
The key word is living!
Don't let the Human race become the next Bald Eagle.

January 27, 2012

A Very Special Public Event

If you are a dedicated nature lover and live in Florida or anywhere within driving distance of the West Coast of the state, better put this date on your Calendar.
FWS Biologist
Larry Richardson
Larry Richardson, the premier Florida Wildlife Biologist and perhaps our best known expert on the Florida Panther and the Ghost Orchid, will be making a public speaking appearance on Sanibel Island February 3rd at the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge.
This is a rare chance to hear from an expert about two of the most Endangered Species in the world and Richard is the one who keeps a watchful eye on both of them.

All of the details about this exciting event are in this story:

Florida Panther
Ghost Orchid

January 24, 2012

Fueling Extinction

The Ogallala Aquifer
This is a subject very close to my heart as I have traveled often through the lands of the Ogallala Aquifer and have admired
the beauty of not only the land, but of the wildlife and the people living there.
The idea that another horrific oil spill could happen to this pristine, fragile ecosystem, was incomprehensible and I have railed against this idea since first hearing of it.
Now, that the plan has hopefully, finally been put down, it has been revealed which species were going to be put most 'at risk' by this terrible plan.
For those of you not familiar with the Endangered wildlife
of Florida, we had two of the ten species that could potentially
have been annihilated by the approval of the Keystone Pipeline,
which would have run from Canada to Texas, affecting many wild
things, ecosystems and human populations in its pathway.
One only has to bring to mind the two most recent oil disasters
to understand why this was such a terrible idea to begin with:
the BP Gulf Oil and the Exxon/Mobile Oil Yellowstone River disasters.

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle            

Whooping Crane

The two Florida species on the 'at risk' list were:

January 21, 2012

Millions Of Dead Bats Is Very Bad News

If you are one of those people who fear Bats because of the stereotype that they inherited from scary old movies, think about this number: 4,500.
That is the number of insects that a Bat can eat every day.
Now imagine that one day very soon, all of the Bats just disappear.
There are going to be lots and lots of bugs just waiting to chew on you.
Like the Everglades in August, is what the U.S. could face without our very best bug controller around to protect us anymore.
Bats are wonderful, efficient little creatures who do so much good for us and we had better figure out how to stop this disease before we lose them.
The Grey Bat
In Florida we have the Gray Bat, which was already Endangered.
Right now, Bat Deaths number over 5.5 million from White-Nose Syndrome and if help for them doesn't come soon, we may all feel like we are living in the tropics.

Want to help Save Our Bats?
Click on me to learn more at Biological Diversity.
Bat Deaths, a Catastrophe In the Making

January 18, 2012

A Team Rescue of Endangered Turtles

A Green Sea Turtle Hatchling
The US Air Force and the Coast Guard teamed up this week in Florida to rescue 29 Endangered green sea turtle hatchlings.
We know that these two groups regularly save lives all over the country, but this was a rescue of an altogether different kind.
These little late bloomers were not quite ready for the now cold Atlantic and probably would not have survived the trip without a little help from their new friends.
The hatchlings were eventually released further out to sea in a warmer area and with a little luck, they should have a better chance for survival.

January 15, 2012

Beginning A New Way of Thinking

This week, Goldie Hawn was a guest on Dr. Oz and as they talked, he remarked on her youthful appearance for her age.
(She is, by the way, my age and I have always found her to be a kindred spirit)
He asked her to what she attributed this and she said that each day she finds five reasons to be grateful and that in doing so, the resultant positive mind set contributes to keeping her healthy and happy.
She has written a new book and has an organization devoted to the subject.
I have always found Goldie to be a positive, intelligent, happy person and have admired her since the late 1960's, when first I saw her in the very silly Laugh-In.

So these are the five things that I am grateful for today:

The person that I share my life with died a few days ago and was brought back to life by a machine in his chest.

The person and the puppy
The puppy that we brought home to help us recover from the tremendous grief
of losing another of her kind is healthy, happy and full of irrepressible joy.

 A field near our home was recently overrun with dozens of Sandhill Cranes.  

Sandhill Cranes
There are so many birds at our window eating, that they have to take a number.
The sun is shining and it is warmer today.
Now this list of five may seem strange to some, but Goldie did not say that it had to make sense to others, only to find five things that you are grateful for each day.
For today, these are mine.
Thank you Goldie. 

January 11, 2012

Sometimes Red Tape Can Make A Bow

Adult and juvenile Whooping Cranes

Finally after nearly a month of wrangling, finagling and all manner of chatter, the FAA has relented, made a one time exception and the Alabama waylaid Endangered Whooping Cranes are on their way at last, back to Florida.
Welcome home little ones, we hope that your time here will be just a little less stressful than the past few weeks have been.

January 8, 2012

Not A Good Week For Whooping Cranes

There were two disturbing stories concerning
Whooping CraneEndangered Whooping Cranes this week.
First the annual human led 1200 mile migration
flight from Wisconsin to the Chassahowitzka
National Wildlife Refuge in Florida was halted
in Alabama by Government officials who
believe that the flight is in violation of FAA
regulations because the pilots are being paid,
which is against FAA rules.
Some have suggested that if the matter cannot be resolved, the Cranes could be released locally in Alabama, which is not good news for people here in Florida, as this is their winter home and was their destination before they were stopped.
Then the next day a Whooping Crane was shot and killed in my home state of Indiana.
Unbelievably, this is the second one to be killed in the past two years in the state.

January 5, 2012

It's Cruise Season In Florida

Now that Snow Bird season is in fill swing in Florida, 
the Cruise Ships are lined up at every dock and port
 in the Sunshine state, from Jacksonville to Miami.
The tourists and the Cruise ships bring much needed
income to our state and we are happy to see them all
come here for their vacations.
But, what we don't want, or need, are the disgusting things that Cruise Ships leave behind, like raw sewage, dumped just offshore of our beautiful Florida beaches.
The impact that this has had on our wildlife is hard to understand unless you personally witnessed the damage done to this same wildlife by the BP Oil disaster last summer.
And, it's not just in the Oceans, it's also in our local lakes.
Right now, Boaters all over the state are being stopped and checked and if they are dumping raw sewage, they are being fined, big time.
Two things to consider, swimming in this cesspool pollution can make you very sick and eating any fish that live in it, will as well.
When our waters are used as public bathrooms, we all pay, eventually.
Doing the right thing is easy, finding people who actually will........

January 2, 2012

My 2012 Wish List

Like fellow Hoosier David Letterman's Top Ten List, mine also begins with number 10:
Number 10: Floridians will become better Black Bear Aware with their Trash.
Number 9: All of our Endangered Sea Turtles will have a banner nesting season.
Number 8: The little green treefrogs and lizards will stop disappearing from my yard.
Number 7: Idiots will stop stealing the Ghost Orchid, which dies when taken from its home.
Number 6: Whooping Cranes will increase their numbers and travel to and from Florida safely.
Number 5: Manatees will have a warmer winter and many fewer collisions with local boaters.
Number 4: Right Whales will have fewer incidents with Military and Cruise ships in the Atlantic.
Number 3: Florida Panthers will have their Habitats protected from hunters, golfers and others.
Number 2: The Florida Everglades will finally get the money allocated to it and get cleaned up.
Number 1: Our Government will realize its ridiculous mistake of a 3.5% cut to the EPA.