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Florida briefs: Winter storm harms wildlife in Panhandle


Frigid front kills birds and rare sea turtles

The winter storm that struck the Panhandle is being blamed for the deaths of pelicans, sea turtles and other wildlife.

More than 130 cold-stunned endangered and threatened sea turtles were rescued Thursday and Friday, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

About a dozen more were found dead, including some from the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

"With all the bridges being closed, we were not able to do what we really needed to do," Seashore biologist Mark Nicholas said.

"Time is of the essence."

Most of the turtles being found are green sea turtles, Robbin Trindell, a biological administrator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the newspaper. They will be taken to the Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach to recover and be released sometime next week.

The storm covered much of the western Florida Panhandle with ice and snow. Water temperatures dropped quickly from about 58 degrees to 37 degrees, FWC wildlife biologist Allen Foley said.

Sea turtles go into a catatonic state when they suffer from the reptile version of hypothermia. Unlike marine mammals such as dolphins and manatees, they cannot keep themselves warm. Once temperatures dip below 50 degrees, sea turtles have difficulty moving through the water.


Philanthropist dies at horse jumping event

A former New York City assistant district attorney and philanthropist has died after falling in a Florida horse jumping competition.

The Palm Beach Post reports 52-year-old Anne Heyman died in Wellington on Friday.

Sheriff's deputies say Heyman fell from a horse at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center around 10:30 a.m. Friday. She was flown to Delray Medical Center, where she died at 1:30 p.m.

Heyman was born in South Africa and attended the George Washington School of Law. She went on to work for the Manhattan district attorney's office and later led the creation of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, a community for children orphaned during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The organization's website states funeral details will be provided in the coming days.


Girl home alone when meth lab catches fire

Authorities say a meth lab caught fire while a 9-year-old girl was left home alone.

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office has charged Melissa Berry and Jonathan Coburn with child neglect, manufacturing methamphetamine, arson and cultivation of cannabis.

Deputies were called to the home near Orange City about 3:45 p.m. Friday.

A neighbor reported seeing white smoke coming from the garage and said it was getting worse.

When deputies arrived, a girl came out of the house and said she had been inside alone. She was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution but did not sustain any injuries.

A fire marshal detective determined meth lab equipment had caused the fire.

The child was turned over to relatives.

Times wires

Florida briefs: Winter storm harms wildlife in Panhandle 02/01/14 [Last modified: Saturday, February 1, 2014 9:21pm]
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