Florida freshwater turtle harvest
Speak out to protect our turtles
The commercial harvest of freshwater turtles is a significant and growing conservation threat in Florida, and is on the radar screen of biologists and conservationists statewide. Turtles are slow-growing, long-lived animals that take years to reach sexual maturity. The Florida Turtle Conservation Trust believes that the harvest of freshwater turtles is unsustainable, particularly when you take into consideration the many other threats, both natural and anthropogenic.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist reported that collectively the governor's office and the state wildlife agency have received more than 3,000 proturtle letters and only 22 proharvest letters from the public. We believe this clearly speaks for how the citizens of Florida feel about this conservation issue.
Gov. Charlie Crist's recent letter to wildlife commission chairman Rodney Barreto urging the commission to "move toward a complete ban on the harvesting of our wild turtles" exhibited sound leadership and demonstrated a strong act of responsible environmental stewardship.
We are hopeful the wildlife commission will implement a permanent rule regarding harvest in a timely manner and commend the commission for their earlier decision to expedite the rulemaking process. We encourage Floridians to write to the commissioners and urge them to do the right thing for Florida's wild turtles.
George L. Heinrich, founding president, Florida Turtle Conservation Trust, St. Petersburg
Kudos to our governor for understanding that wildlife belongs to all of us.
I appreciated the logic of biologist Peter Meylan who urges us to err on the side of the turtles. What good is making $150,000 a year catching turtles if we leave our planet a lot worse for our having been here?
A species does not have to be endangered for us to understand that teaching our children to extend their compassion will trickle up to how we treat each other. An adage teaches that if we stop a child from harming an animal, we do as much for the child as for the animal. And kids love turtles.
Turtles may not be able to vote, but those of us who are in complete favor of Gov. Crist's position on banning the "harvesting" of our wild turtles sure can.
Jayn Meinhardt, Clearwater
Let us be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy
In 1949, soon after the end of World War II, a musical titled South Pacific came out. One of the songs expressed a major social issue of the times: "You've got to be taught to hate and fear … you've got to be carefully taught."
We've come a long way, as proven by our recent election. However, many of us have still felt the sting of prejudice and, in turn, have been hostile or contemptuous toward others. Acknowledging this, we need to look anew at our fellow human beings and recognize our similarities, not our differences.
When each of us, regardless of our background or history, realizes that the most important aspect of our lives is to fulfill our unique potential for the benefit and growth of ourselves and all of humanity, there won't be any place for hate and fear. In order to attain this goal, we will all have to develop characteristics such as honesty, trustworthiness, courage and compassion.
On this Thanksgiving Day in the United States, let us be thankful for the gift of choice, the freedoms we enjoy, and for living in a place where anyone can make his or her dreams come true. Let us remember our desire to be harbingers of peace.
"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."
Peggy Pennington, St. Pete Beach
Help for runaways
For many, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and a time to give back to the community. Many volunteers will donate time in shelters for adults by serving hot meals or providing warm blankets.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, nearly 50,000 reports of missing children are called in every year, and 96 percent of those are attributed to children running away.
For youth who have run away to the streets, homelessness is a greater challenge than it is for adults. In some states, it is against the law for teens to be homeless and on their own. Often, youth who live on the streets avoid asking for help because of fear. Young people are afraid of being sent back to a dangerous home, put in foster care or even jail.
November is National Runaway Prevention Month. The Florida Network of Youth and Family Services wants all Floridians to know that help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for young people who have run away, are contemplating running away and for parents who need help with their children.
This Thanksgiving, please give the gift of spreading the word that there is help for homeless and runaway youth and worried parents. Florida has 28 shelters for this. Call 1-800-RUNAWAY and you will be connected to the nearest youth shelter.
Mary D. Richter, executive director, Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, Tallahassee
Thanks to the pope
As a not-for-profit media watch group that seeks to promote responsibility in Middle East reporting by including the often-ignored perspective of our reliable democratic friend Israel, we wish to give a Thanksgiving thanks to Pope Benedict XVI for his forthright recent condemnation of the increasing anti-Semitism and the threat of another Holocaust.
We thank our fellow Americans of the Catholic faith as well as the Messianic movement for their stalwart support of Israel.
Norman N. Gross Ph.D., president, PRIMER, Palm Harbor
Like so many others, I survive on my Social Security, which reaches just so far each month. I donate what and when I can because so many, especially now, are in desperate need.
I am now not well and must stay at home, unable to get out the way I used to. I must tolerate the telephone requests for donations which often come as late as 9 p.m. Many are rude and crude. One would not accept anything less than $20. Another called three times in one week to ask if I had received their donation envelope since they had not yet received their money. Another hung up on me when I told him I was unable to donate at this time. These are all well-known organizations that I will not name to protect their privacy, even though they do not care about mine.
It is not only the atmosphere that needs cleaning up!
Jane K. Robeson, Spring Hill
This year, Christmas Spam | Nov. 22
Columnist Connie Schultz writes as if she were around when Spam made its debut. I would venture to say she was maybe a mere twinkle in her father's eye about that time — at least if he was involved in World War II.
You see, while stationed in the Marshall Islands, I was first introduced to Spam — sometimes three times a day. I did then, and I do now, give credit to the cooks who worked wonders at disguising Spam. I even got to liking the stuff and still do today. I wonder if she has ever tried it chopped up and cooked with white gravy on toast.
We all vowed that when we got out of the Navy, we would never again have any truck with the stuff. Sorry, guys, but I still like it … not with the same frequency, of course, but now and then.
Gene Taylor, Pinellas Park