In January, WLRN reported on the curious -- and destructive -- habits of some of the Everglades National Park's vulture population. The birds have been reported to "attack" parked vehicles, picking off rubber and vinyl. The baffling and costly behavior has led Everglades' staff to pass out anti-vulture kits to park visitors. It has also motivated state conservationalists and scientists to look into the matter more thoroughly.
Tough economic times put environmental issues on the Florida Legislature's back burner in recent years, but this session should be different, according to Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), who sat on the panel at Monday night's Town Hall Session 2013 hosted by WLRN and the Miami Herald.
The wacky challenge that grabbed national headlines -- and perhaps more than its fair share of derision -- will come to a head Saturday morning, when the 2013 Python Challenge awards are presented in Miami.
If Gov. Rick Scott's proposed $74.2 billion budget passes the Legislature intact, it would include $75 million for conservation land projects spearheaded by the Florida Forever Coalition. The 2013-2014 budget also includes $60 million for Everglades restoration and $6.5 million for restoring springs.
It's often said that there is no other place in the world like Florida's Everglades. Despite man's best efforts, the 'glades endure as one of the world's most widely recognized sources of biodiversity and an example of the fragile nature of human/ecological relations.
Citizen scientists and environmental stewards take note: Two state agencies are in the process of soliciting public comment on issues that could impact Florida's overall ecological outlook.
First up is the South Florida Water Management District, which is accepting public comments on four parcels of land in the Upper Lakes Management Region located north of Orlando. These include Tibet-Butler Preserve, Shingle Creek, Lake Marion Creek and Reedy Creek, and SUMICA.
With just a little more than a week remaining in the hunt, the 2013 Python Challenge has seen the capture and (hopefully relatively swift and painless) killing of 37 Burmese pythons in the Everglades. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission -- which is sponsoring the hunt -- announced the latest kill count on Tuesday morning via its official Facebook page.
The big Everglades python hunt starts Saturday and, so far, 670 people have signed up for the fun and a chance at cash prizes.
Among them is our intrepid U. S. Senator, Bill Nelson. He and a companion -- described in the Tampa Bay Times as a "rancher from Davie" -- will strap on pistols and machetes on Thursday to go after the huge Burmese pythons that Nelson has worried so much about, occasionally to the amusement of his Senate colleagues.
Next time you go to the Everglades you'll have the option to pick up an anti-vulture kit.
The park is offering the kits so people can protect their cars against vultures during the winter months. The black vultures sometimes rip the rubber and vinyl parts--such as windshield wipers and sunroof seals--off of cars.
Evidently at its wits' end over the Burmese pythons swarming the Everglades, Florida has declared a month-long snake season for armed amateurs. They'll go into the 'Glades to compete for cash prizes by killing as many as they can.