Florida may be going on a bear hunt.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission executive director Nick Wiley said Wednesday that he will "put bear hunting for population management on the table" at the next commission meeting in two weeks.
If commissioners at that Feb. 4 meeting approve bringing back the bear hunt — banned statewide since 1994 — then the first hunting season could occur as early as this fall, Wiley said. The season would be kept short, with strict quotas for hunters, he said....
01/17/15 Global Warming
Gov. Rick Scott has never said that he believes climate change is really happening, despite meeting with scientists who did their best to persuade him. His Department of Environmental Protection has no specific program devoted to combating the problem. And although a group met in St. Petersburg last year to propose some possible climate change solutions for Scott, they have gotten no response from Tallahassee....
Someone has taken a violent dislike to Florida's iconic brown pelicans.
In the Florida Keys over the past six weeks, more than a dozen pelicans have turned up with their pouches slashed, left to die of starvation.
"It is heartbreaking to see," said Maya Trotman, director of Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue, which has dispatched volunteers to try to find any more maimed pelicans still flying around....
ST. PETERSBURG — A teacher was arrested at the Lealman Intermediate School on Wednesday on a charge that he had sex with a 14-year-old student at Coquina Key Park "on several different occasions in his car," police said.
The teacher, charged with lewd and lascivious battery, is Jeffrey Bohlander, 54, of 1270 S Keene Road in Clearwater. After his arrest, Bohlander resigned from the school, which is at 4900 28th St. N in unincorporated Pinellas County, police said....
12/29/14 Global Warming
Along Florida's most famous slice of waterfront, the water is taking a bigger and bigger bite. As the level of the Atlantic Ocean has pushed higher, it has begun gobbling up the shoreline along Cape Canaveral.
A railroad that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration built along the beach in the 1960s began being routinely covered by waves during storms. Meanwhile, dunes were leveled that once protected Kennedy Space Center, no matter how high the tide....
For more than a decade, Dade City's Dr. Daniel P. McBath has been recognized for his service to the community, particularly his work with Pasco County's sports teams. Thirteen years ago, the Florida Society of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians named him its Physician of the Year.
But 10 years ago, according to an order filed by state health officials, he drugged a female medical student and assaulted her while she was unconscious. When she awoke, he told her they had just "made love," state health officials said. ...
On these winter days when Kings Bay turns chilly, hundreds of manatees crowd into Three Sisters Springs in Citrus County, huddling together in the warmth flowing from the underground spring vents.
Lately they've had plenty of company — too much, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Photos of hundreds of manatees piled up like puppies in Three Sisters have attracted so many tourists that federal officials estimate the spring sees 100 people an hour. The number of snorkelers and boaters visiting the springs to see the manatees has nearly doubled from 67,000 permitted visitors in 2010 to more than 125,000 in 2013....
12/11/14 State Roundup
A year ago, when Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced he was suing the state of Georgia for taking too much water and leaving Apalachicola and its oysters high and dry, one of the people standing by him was Jon Steverson, executive director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District.
On Thursday, Scott had another job for Steverson, 39, of Tallahassee. The governor appointed the fourth-generation Florida native as the new secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection....
On his reality television show, Swamp Brothers, Robbie Keszey wrestled with scores of alligators, crocodiles and venomous reptiles swarming across his Bushnell snake farm.
But Keszey had a secret sideline. He and his business partner, Robroy MacInnes, were smugglers slipping around state, federal and international law. Last week, their smuggling earned each man a federal prison sentence: a year behind bars for Keszey, 18 months for MacInnes....
Agricultural giant Alico Inc. is buying three Central Florida citrus operations for $363 million in an aggressive move that the Fort Myers company says will make it the largest citrus producer in the United States.
The deals announced Wednesday more than triple Alico's agricultural footprint to more than 30,000 acres and triple its return to shareholders. The deals show Alico is gambling that Florida's orange groves will bounce back from the citrus greening bacteria that has devastated the industry — to the point of pledging to replant trees that have been lost to the disease....
Three years ago, early in Gov. Rick Scott's administration, his Department of Environmental Protection proposed major changes in the state park system — mostly to add more campgrounds and other facilities, including a place for recreational vehicles to park overnight at Honeymoon Island State Park.
The proposal ran into a firestorm of opposition. A public hearing in Dunedin drew about 1,000 angry people. After that, Scott himself pulled the plug....
They are the symbol of the Everglades, the animal that for decades most tourists have anticipated seeing during a visit to the national park.
But the alligators that inhabit the Everglades are showing signs of serious trouble. Their population has dropped, and the ones that are still around tend to look starved.
Did invading pythons eat their lunch? Did they get into some bad sushi? No, the answer is more complicated, according to veteran biologist Frank Mazzotti — and it bodes ill for the Everglades as a whole....
A consortium of science organizations led by the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science is getting a $20.2 million grant to continue leading studies of the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster — in part by studying the impact of another Gulf of Mexico oil spill that happened in 1979.
"By looking into the past, it should enable us to look into the future," oceanographer Jacqueline E. Dixon, dean of USF's marine science program, said....
On a Collier County road on Thursday, biologists found a female Florida panther that had been run over by a car or truck. The death of that 3- or 4-year-old panther marks the 19th roadkill death of one of Florida's official state animals this year.
That ties the all-time record set in 2012 — with more than a month left to go in the year. Experts expect to see the record broken before New Year's Eve rolls around....
At a little-known government laboratory in South Florida, they keep the snails under lock and key. Sure, any escape would be sloooooow. But giant African land snails are such a threat to humans that the rules say they have to be kept locked away, just in case.
The aptly-named snails can grow to be more than 6 inches long. Wherever they go they leave a trail of smelly excrement. They eat 500 kinds of plants. They produce up to 500 eggs two or three times a year, and because they're hermaphrodites they don't need a mate. If they aren't getting enough lime from the soil for their shells, they will gobble the stucco off the side of a house. ...