Florida wildlife

Mark Hedden / WLRN

A 33-year-old Big Pine Key man faces a third-degree felony charge after state wildlife officers say he shot and killed an endangered Key deer because it was eating his plants.

Big Pine Key, an island about 40 miles northeast of Key West, is part of the National Key Deer Refuge. The refuge was created in 1957 to protect the diminutive deer, which had been hunted to the extent there were an estimated 55 left.

Most Floridians see manatees as cute, roly-poly animals that hang out in crowded springs and get too close to boats. Travel south a bit - to Cuba - and their plight is very different. There, the animals often end up as somebody's dinner. WUSF recently traveled with a Sarasota-based conservation group  to the island, where their groundbreaking trip tried to find ways to save this iconic creature.



(Sound of boat starting)  If we sight something, the front of the boat is going to be 12 o'clock, so it'll be Manatee 1, 9 o'clock!!

Nearly 1,000 miles in 70 days -- that's how long a trio of wildlife enthusiasts are traversing the state, from Central Florida to the Alabama state line. 

Wilson Sayre

This past weekend was the start of the two-and-a-half-month alligator-hunting season in Florida. It was also the first time the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge opened its gates to recreational gator hunting. It's the first wildlife refuge in the country to do so.

Of the 1,203 people who applied, only 11 were granted permits, each for two gators. Half of the permit holders started their hunt Friday at the much-anticipated opening.


Manatees Might Lose Endangered Status

Jul 2, 2014
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region / Creative Commons/Flickr

Manatees have been an endangered species since 1967. But on Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made an announcement that this classification may soon be lowered to "threatened."

But some environmentalists and government officials are opposed to this change. They say changing the label might result in more lenient rules about boat speed zones and dock-building limits. 

Creative Commons / Flickr user Brian Popik

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is trying to eradicate an invasive species: the lionfish, which swims the South Florida seas.

It's is a funky-looking, red-and-white striped fish. Its fins fan out like a mane, hence the name. But the real image its name should conjure up is of a big bully.

The lionfish population has exploded over the past couple of decades. Its presence has increasingly hurt local native fish and other sea critters.


10/09/13 - Wednesday's Topical Currents examines how our lives are increasingly entwined with creatures which are displaced by suburbia, highways and urban sprawl. South Florida is a prime example of urban menagerie creation, through habitat loss.  We see foxes, raccoons, wading birds, reptiles and even vultures on our streets and properties.  We’ll speak with nature writer and researcher Lyanda Lynn Haupt about her book, THE URBAN BESTIARY:  Encountering the Everyday Wild.  That’s Topical Currents . . . Wednesday at 1pm.