Craig Pittman, Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

Craig Pittman

Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

I’m a native Floridian whose family arrived here in 1850. I graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where my muckraking for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label me “the most destructive force on campus.” Since then I’ve covered a variety of beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Stories I have written on environmental issues have won national awards, and "The Daily Show" once called me a "nerd" about Florida history. I’ve written four books. The most recent one,Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, is a New York Times bestseller and won a Florida Book Awards gold medal in 2017.

Oh, Florida! Farewell to a plant hustler who was no shrinking violet

Lee Moore poses beside his truck holding a Hybrid Guzmania in 2003. Friday. Photo by Bob Shanley.
Lee Moore called himself “The Adventurer” and often went out of his way to prove it — but he never smuggled orchids. He said.

Manatees return to ZooTampa, but 'rogue vet' still can't treat them

A manatee mother and calf in an enclosure at ZooTampa on Thursday. The mother was injured by a boat strike and animal rescue workers kept the uninjured calf with her. ZooTampa at Lowry Park has resumed its care of Florida manatees in need of rescue and rehabilitation at its David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center. There are currently four manatees in its care. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Four manatees are now swimming in ZooTampa's revamped manatee care center, but the jury is still out on the senior veterinarian, accused of manatee malpractice.

Fight to save nearly extinct sparrow turns into fight over how to save it

A wild grasshopper sparrow perches on the hand of a federal biologist. If the species goes extinct, it will be the first one in the U.S. to disappear since the last dusky seaside sparrow died at Disney World in 1987. [Courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ended its contract with the foundation that was breeding the endangered birds in captivity. No one knows what will happen to the sparrows now.

ZooTampa cleared to treat manatees, but controversial vet still banned from touching them

Dr. Ray Ball, senior veterinarian at ZooTampa, formerly the Lowry Park Zoo, has been ordered by federal officials not to treat any more manatees until an investigation is complete into “credible reports” he mistreated some of them. [ZooTampa]
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has cleared the Tampa zoo to again treat manatees while it continues to review complaints against self-described "rogue veterinarian" Ray Ball

Oh, Florida! Give all those bad teachers a gun — what could go wrong?

Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes.   (LUIS SANTANA   |   Times)
The state doesn’t track how many “interesting” teachers there are. But the Legislature is okay with arming them.