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Entries in Florida (183)

Monday
Jun272016

FWC Bows to Pressure from Animal Rights Activists, Cancels Second Bear Hunt

Bowing to organized and intense pressure from animal rights activists, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission  has voted 4 to 3 to cancel a bear hunt this fall.  In other words, politics trumped science-based management of our fish and wildlife, just as happened in the Northwest, where Washington and Oregon have removed limits on bass and other "nonnative" warmwater species.

More and more the political correctness madness that infects so much of this country is creeping into strategies for managing our natural resources.

Not that facts matter anymore, but here are some interesting ones:

In 1975, the human population in Florida was 8.518 million, while the bear population was estimated at between 300 and 500.

In 2014, the human population was 19.89.  The most recent estimate of the bear population is 4,350.

Now consider that a human population increase of more than 100 percent has demanded development of vast areas of land that once likely was prime habitat. Meanwhile, the bear population has increased by more than 1,000 percent, meaning reduced wilderness can't support the numbers, forcing the animals in to more "civilized" areas. 

People who are argue that the bears should be "relocated" instead of killed don't understand the concept of  "carrying capacity," just as they don't understand much of anything about natural resources management.

FWC Director Nick Wiley justified the decision this way:

 “Although hunting has been demonstrated to be a valuable tool to control bear populations across the country, it is just one part of FWC’s comprehensive bear management program. I am proud of our staff who used the latest, cutting-edge, peer-reviewed science to develop a recommendation for our Commissioners to consider.

"Our agency will continue to work with Floridians, the scientific community and local governments as our focus remains balancing the needs of Florida’s growing bear population with what’s best for families in our state. I would like to thank all seven of our Commissioners for their leadership on this important issue.”

But in approving in the 2015 hunt, two commissioners said this:

"Of the 41 states that have black bears, 32 of them already allow hunting in some form or fashion,” said Commission Vice Chairman Brian Yablonski of Tallahassee.

“And all those states have managed to do it in a way that is sustainable and that works to preserve and keep a healthy, thriving bear population.”

“I’d rather see more bears in the environment and hunting than the amount of bears we’re euthanizing, because we’re bringing them into the neighborhoods,” added Commissioner Ron Bergeron of Fort Lauderdale.

“I don’t think any person should have the right to endanger their neighbor.”

So, as a few more bears won't be killed among an exploding population (304 in 2015), the odds increase for someone living in Florida to be fatally mauled by a bear.  Already, several have been attacked and severely injured, pets have been killed, and houses and property damaged by bears that have lost their natural fear of humans. In 2012 alone, a bear complaint hotline received 6,000 calls.

Sunday
Jun262016

Senate Bill Introduced to Prevent Closure of Sport Fisheries

A bill has been introduced into the U.S. Senate to uphold the authority of state fish and wildlife agencies and prevent unwarranted closures of fisheries, such as already occurred at North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Florida's Biscayne National Park.

“Given the significant economic, social, and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation, any decision to close or restrict public access should be based on sound science and strong management principles,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

 “While closed areas have a role in fisheries management, they should only come after legitimate consideration of all possible options and agreement among management agencies.

"This bill, which is strongly supported by the recreational fishing industry, will ensure that the voice of state fisheries agencies is not lost in these decisions.”

Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act, also known as S.2807, is similar to legislation already passed in the House as part of the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act. It requires the National Park Service (NPS) to have approval from state agencies before closing Great Lakes or state marine waters to recreational and/or commercial fishing.

“It’s only logical that any decision affecting fishing access in state waters should have the approval of that state’s fish and wildlife agency,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “We applaud Sens. Cassidy (Bill of Louisiana) and Rubio (Marco of Florida) for introducing this common-sense legislation, and urge other members of the Senate to co-sponsor and help ensure this bill’s passage.”

In 2015, NPS implemented a 10,000-acre marine preserve in one of the nation's most popular urban fishing areas, despite protests by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The state agency said that it would be overly restrictive and not biologically effective, adding that less punitive management tools could rebuild the park's fisheries and conserve habitat.

NPS's decision to ignore Florida input and force new regulations in state waters revealed a loophole in current law that could affect any state with coastal or Great Lakes waters managed by the federal agency.

Friday
Jun102016

PC Insanity Infects Management of Fish, Wildlife; Our Outdoor Heritage at Risk

As it has with every other aspect of society, Political Correctness insanity brought to us by the Democratic Left has infected natural resources management. As a consequence,  fish and wildlife now are becoming tools to use for political gain instead of being managing for public good.

In the West, Washington and Oregon wildlife agencies have bowed to pressure from the feds and special interest groups, removing creel limits on bass in several rivers and likely destroying world-class fisheries in the process.

The argument is that these fish contribute to the continued demise of native salmon/steelhead/trout fisheries. In fact, evidence is scant. The real reasons are loss of habitat and alteration of their cold-water environment to one that more favors  bass, catfish, and walleye.

And bass, even though legally introduced more than a century ago by the feds and/or with government approval, are "nonnative."

For today's PC crowd, nothing makes these fish more offensive and in need of elimination. Never mind the hypocrisy that illegal immigrants are a protected class by these same people.

In Florida, meanwhile, compassionate PC's are readying their torches and pitchforks to go after the state if it should dare to have a second hunt to protect people, pets, and property from an out-of-control bear population.

My vote for the most idiotic PC insanity to date, however, goes to Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, who wants to spend millions of dollars in public funds to perform vasectomies on bucks to control a deer population that has exploded from 24 in 2008 to nearly 1,000 today. Just last year, a deer broke through a strip-mall window and bled to death inside. Others have gored pets and bolted into traffic, colliding with city buses, police cars and private vehicles.

Wildlife biologists say the plan won't work. De Blasio insists that he knows better than the scientists. And, yes, there's hypocrisy here too. Remember "manmade climate change," one of the basic tenets of Leftist ideology?  The true believers insist that "the science is settled" and "97 percent of scientists agree" regarding the cause of climate change.

Of course, neither is true. But the point is the PC crazies will use science when it meets their needs and ignore it when it doesn't. (They also intentionally attempt to confuse the issue, making it appear as if their opponents deny climate change is occurring, when that is not the case at all. The argument is over whether manmade activities are contributing, and, if so, how much.)

Here is what  wildlife biologist Dr. Paul Curtis of Cornell University told The New York Post about de Blasio's plan:“This proposal has no chance of success whatsoever.”

First, if the local bucks are shooting blanks, does would keep going into heat all through fall and winter, right on up to early spring. That would attract still-potent males from many miles around, with some possibly even crossing the Delaware from New Jersey to get some action.

But “it won’t even get to that point,” Curtis said, “because I think it would be extremely difficult to get even 50 percent of the bucks” in order to sterilize them. Even a few intact bucks can keep the herd growing exponentially.

Also, the Post added, "Snipped bucks would be sterile but still have a strong sex drive. So during an extended rutting season, there would be more perilous encounters with humans as the mad-with-lust bucks heedlessly run around looking for mates."

Read more about the insanity here.

Of course, the logical solution is to bring in expert archers to cull the population. Backyard Bow Pro in North Carolina provides such services, with the venison donated to local food pantries.

But logic has no place where animal rights activists are concerned, and they are firmly entrenched in the big cities. In 14 of them, they recently  celebrated National Animal Rights Day.

These are the people who want to stop us from fishing and hunting. Their tactics and campaigns aren't always aimed directly at our outdoor heritage, but that's where they are leading. Their ultimate goal is to stop use of animals entirely, including for medical research, food, and even as pets.

They aren't yet going after hunting and fishing with a national campaign. But they're trying their best to shut them down, a little at a time, in the states. In Maine they tried, and failed, to stop a bear hunt. Now they're focused on Florida.

That's why it's so important for states to follow the lead of Texas, and guarantee the right to fish and hunt in their constitutions.  Nineteen of them now have done so, 18 since 1996.

In November, citizens of Indiana and Kansas will vote on amendments to protect the right to fish and hunt, while a North Carolina proposal still must be approved by the state senate before it becomes a ballot initiative.

Meanwhile in New York City, de Blasio said that performing vasectomies on male deer is the preferred option because it is easy to perform.

"That's absolutely false," said biologist Curtis, who has done buck vasectomies. "They do not respond well to immobilization drugs. It is far more stressful on the animals.

But facts and logic mean little to de Blasio and true believers whose dream is to give legal rights to animals as part of their PC paradise.

And that includes making fishing and hunting illegal.

Wednesday
May252016

Coastal Birds Need Space This Memorial Day

 

In 1980, Florida had 10 million residents. Today, it has 20 million, with another 100 million tourists visiting annually. At the same time, populations of many coastal birds have plummeted.

With that in mind, show some consideration for the birds this Memorial Day weekend.

"The end of May is a critical time for some of Florida's most iconic coastal birds and their fluffy chicks. Roseate spoonbills, black skimmers, snowy plovers, American oystercatchers, least terns and more are using Florida's beaches and islands right now to raise their young," said Julie Wraithmell, Audubon Florida's Deputy Executive Director.

Unfortunately, when boaters or beachgoers approach nesting birds too closely, parents are flushed from their nests, leaving chicks and eggs vulnerable to predators, overheating in the summer sun, crushing under foot (in the case of beach nesters), or falling and drowning in water beneath the nest (in the case of tree nesters). A single, ill-timed disturbance can destroy an entire colony.

"While the disturbance is seldom intentional, the result for the birds can be deadly,” said Brian Yablonski, Chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.  “Together we can ensure this holiday weekend is safe and enjoyable for people and birds alike."


  • Respect posted areas, even if you don't see birds inside them. Birds, eggs and nests are well-camouflaged with the beach environment, and disturbance by people can cause the abandonment of an entire colony.
  • Give colony islands a wide berth, and when fishing, be sure not to leave any equipment behind. Always dispose of fishing line and tackle appropriately.
  • Avoid disturbing groups of birds. If birds take flight or appear agitated, you are too close.
  • Refrain from walking dogs or allowing cats to roam freely on beaches during the nesting season. Even on a leash, dogs are perceived as predators by nesting birds, sometimes causing adults to flush at even greater distances than pedestrians alone.
  • Don't let pets off boats onto posted islands or beaches.
  • If you must walk your dog on beaches, always keep it on a leash and away from the birds.
  • Please do not feed gulls or herons at the beach, or bury or leave trash, picnic leftovers, charcoal or fish scraps on the beach. These scraps attract predators of chicks and eggs, such as fish crows, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and laughing gulls.
  • Leave the fireworks at home and attend an official display instead. Impromptu fireworks on Florida's beaches and waterways have catastrophic effects for vulnerable chicks and eggs.
  • Beach-nesting birds sometimes nest outside of posted areas.  If you notice birds circling noisily over your head, you may be near a nesting colony.  Leave quietly, and enjoy the colony from a distance.
  • Most people would never want to hurt baby birds. If you see people disturbing nesting birds, let them know how their actions may hurt the birds’ survival. If they continue to disturb nesting shorebirds or if you see people entering closed Critical Wildlife Areas, report it to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone, or by texting Tip@MyFWC.com.
Thursday
May192016

Pensacola Tournament Takes a Bite out of Lionfish Population

,

Participants removed 8,089 lionfish  in only two days at the May 14-15 Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition Tournament out of Pensacola.

 More than 7,000 people (more than double last year’s numbers) attended the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival , where visitors got to taste lionfish, see filet demonstrations, check out art and conservation booths and much more.

And if that wasn’t enough, Charles Meyling of Montgomery broke the state record for longest lionfish caught in Gulf waters when he brought in a 445-millimeter lionfish (about 18 inches. Previous record was 438 millimeters.

At FWC-supported events statewide that weekend and leading up to that weekend, another 5,978 lionfish were removed for a total of 14,067 statewide. By contrast, 2,975 lionfish were removed in 2015.

“These numbers are a great example of the agency’s efforts to get the public educated about and involved in lionfish removal,” said Jessica McCawley, Division of Marine Fisheries Management director. “Events like this one will encourage continued involvement in proactively and successfully removing lionfish.”

On a more cautious note, this huge increase in harvest also could reflect that populations of this voracious predator are rapidly growing, posing even more of a threat to native species, including snapper, grouper, and other sports fish.

Thanks to the growing interest in lionfish as a food fish, many lionfish harvested around the state will be sold commercially in places like New Orleans, Atlanta, Destin, in Florida Whole Foods, and by Edible Invaders in Pensacola.

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (first Saturday after Mother’s Day) was created by FWC commissioners to raise awareness about lionfish – nonnative, invasive species that have a potential negative impact on native species and

If you want to participate in the 2016 Lionfish Challenge or the Panhandle Pilot Program, remove lionfish, and get rewarded, go here.

Lionfish and other exotic pets that can no longer be cared for should never be released into Florida waters or lands. To learn more about how and where to surrender an exotic pet for adoption go here.

Statewide Lionfish Event Removal Totals:

655 – FSDA Lionfish Calcutta – St. Petersburg

3,478 – Northeast Florida Lionfish Blast – Jacksonville

727 – Lion Tamer Tournament – Panama City Beach

25 – Reef Environmental Education Foundation – Key Largo

31 – Sebastian Lionfish Fest – Sebastian

1,062 – Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition Pre-Tournament - Pensacola