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Florida wildlife officials did what was best for injured bear

Heave-ho for hurt bear | Feb. 18, story

FWC did what was best for bear

Although the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission always has admired the journalism standards of the St. Petersburg Times, this story was a great disservice to this agency's hard-working employees.

The black bear sustained a broken leg and wound to its side when a vehicle struck the animal on Florida's Turnpike on Feb. 3. Although surgery for the animal was an option, FWC officials decided the stress of captivity during treatment and possible postoperative complications posed a greater risk to the bear. Staff writer John Barry wrote that we "rescued — then unrescued" the bear. It would have been helpful if the writer had mentioned that we concluded releasing the animal was the right thing to do, rather than leaving readers with the impression it was a decision devoid of compassion.

We realize the broken bone is painful to the bear, however the bear has a much better chance of survival in the wild while the bone heals. In fact, the pain will cause the bear to stay off that leg, and that's important to the healing process.

Keeping the bear for treatment and observation was not a good option. Bears do not adjust well to captivity. Wild bears in captivity often break their teeth trying to chew through enclosures and seriously injure themselves trying to crash through fences. They also can do damage to the fracture repair during attempts to escape.

Repairing the fracture and immediately releasing the bear also was not a very good option. If the repair failed or the surgical wound opened, a life-threatening infection could result.

This is not like a situation where a dog has a broken leg and people can patch it up and keep it calm while it heals. This is a powerful wild animal, and nature has equipped it to recover on its own in the wild — in an environment it understands and where it knows how to survive.

FWC employees spend many years learning about wildlife and care very much about these wild animals. We base decisions on what we think is best for that animal in that situation, and we have always done our best to maintain the public's confidence that we make those decisions based on science and what we have learned through years of experience.

A more in-depth explanation of the FWC's decision to release the bear without surgery is available online at Click on "Newsroom."

Ken Haddad, executive director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee

Ban cell calls while driving | Feb. 15, editorial

We need to outlaw phoning while driving

I do not own a cell phone, and those drivers pulsating the gas pedal and swerving in their lanes and not having a free hand to use their directional signal while driving are causing road rage and accidents more often than I care to think about.

This is not to mention those drivers so engrossed in their (meaningless) conversations when suddenly they realize they are at their exit and veer across two or three lanes of traffic to get off the highway. And what about the cell phone yakkers who find themselves in an exit-only lane veering into traffic to get back on the path to wherever they are going?

Even though I agree that a cell phone is good for an emergency, carrying on a conversation while driving and risking the lives of others is not worth it. And now drivers are actually texting messages while driving. What are they thinking?

Put it to a vote. I vote, ban the cell phone while driving, and not just in Florida. Every state should pass this law.

Linda Cadovius, St. Petersburg

Driving with a cell phone

Breaking a bad habit

The cell phone and driving thing has really got my attention. I work as a hospice nurse and visit folks in their homes. I am out and about all day long and my cell phone is my link to doctors, patients and my office. I have developed a terrible habit of talking while driving. It saves time and allows me to multitask while I am behind the wheel of my car.

I do not drink and drive because I know that is dangerous and against the law. I have read many articles stating that the driver using a cell phone is as impaired as a drinker. I know that is a fact because I see drivers like myself weaving and distracted. I am sure many accidents are caused by those of us who think we are in control when in fact we are out to lunch.

I am making a pledge to stop the insanity. I cannot afford to wreck my car, cause an accident, injure myself or, worse, kill someone. It is time for all of us to be a little more thoughtful of others. I can find a safe place and pull over. Better yet, I can mute the phone when I drive and place it in the back seat until I break myself of this very dangerous bad habit.

Rita Sewell, St. Petersburg

County to rehire retired director | Feb. 19, story

Prepare for the future

In a world where failed financial wizards receive $18 billion in bonuses, Bob Hunter's "double dipping" leaves me less than outraged.

Given the need for Planning Commission leadership in Hillsborough County at a time when millions in federal infrastructure dollars are coming our way, the Planning Commission is making the right decision to rehire Hunter.

A bigger issue, however, is the Planning Commission's lack of succession planning. Hunter's willingness to come back frankly bails the commission out for their failure to do this.

It would be inexcusable if the Planning Commission were to fail to take full advantage of the reprieve that Hunter is providing them. A two-year contract for Hunter, in which one of his primary responsibilities is to lead a national search for his replacement and help train his successor, would be the most appropriate course of action.

Steve Dubb, Tampa

Good news from Iowa | Feb. 14, commentary

More good news

I enjoyed the Verlyn Klinkenborg column since my wife and I spent about 10 years in Iowa back in the 1980s. Our three children all live there today so we usually visit twice a year. The Klinkenborg piece was devoted to the rapid expansion of small farms in the state.

I'd like to share some other Iowa news about another interesting rapid expansion. It's based on an article I read about a week ago in the Grinnell Herald-Register, the weekly newspaper in Grinnell, Iowa, where we lived during our years in the Hawkeye state.

The headline read: "Iowa ranked #2 in installed wind capacity, surpassing California." The article was based on an announcement by Iowa Gov. Chet Culver. It doesn't specify what state is No. 1 one atop the wind capacity chain, but I suspect it isn't Florida. The piece also quotes Tom Wind (not a typo, I trust!), vice chair of the Iowa Power Fund Board, as follows: "This amount of wind generation will provide about 18 percent of Iowa's total electricity needs."

Might be a worthwhile topic for discussion within the Sunshine State.

Jim Lyman, Lutz

The bear has a much better chance of survival in the wild while the bone heals.

Florida wildlife officials did what was best for injured bear 02/22/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 23, 2009 1:06am]
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