this is why Florida can't have nice things

Florida Is Weird. But Here's What Was Weirdest This Year.

Dec 31, 2013
Sammy Mack, John Spade, Roberto Koltun, Andrew Derksen / WLRN, Flickr, El Nuevo Herald, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Cooperative Pest Survey Program

Florida can be a pretty weird place, and it's something of a holiday tradition for news organizations throughout the state to put together lists of the weirdest stories of the year. (Read our "Why South Florida Can't Have Nice Things" roundup from last year.)

We decided to go straight to the people on the front lines: WLRN-Miami Herald News anchors, producers, editors and reporters. Here are what they thought were the most bizarre Florida stories of 2013. 

Karl Etters / Tallahassee Democrat

After making headlines with the Festivus pole brought in by Deerfield Beach's Chaz Stevens, Florida's Capitol building continues to welcome holiday cheer from every denomination.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

In the ongoing assault on invasive giant African land snails, Florida is ready to release the hounds.

Literally.

The state will be adding snail-sniffing dogs to its team of 50 full-time snail hunters.

RELATED: Dogs Prove To Be Key In Battle Against Giant African Snails

http://dhr.dos.state.fl.us/

Did you know that the first flag to fly over Florida's capitol after admission into the Union read "Let Us Alone?"

Yes. That's right. Neither did we.

But thanks to a blog that Slate is starting with the help of Tampa Bay Times Reporter Craig Pittman, there will be plenty more where that came from.

All this month Pittman will be running a Florida blog for the website, highlighting all the strange and spectacular things that make this the best place to be a journalist.

Add 'Crazy Ants' To Growing List Of Florida Invasive Species

May 28, 2013
AZRainman / Flickr Creative Commons

The giant African land snail has competition in the "strange and destructive little invasive species" department. A report released last month by University of Texas scientists shows that "crazy ants" are "invading the southeastern United States and Texas" -- including Florida. 

Sea Level Rise May Happen Too Quick For Shore Birds To React

May 15, 2013
Hunter-Desportes / Flickr Creative Commons

Humans aren't the only species facing an uncertain future in South Florida should current sea level rise predictions prove accurate. Migratory and resident shore birds also would feel the pinch of encroaching salt water, beach erosion, and shore line and habitat loss. 

When examining current land modeling and other scientific data, in addition to physical evidence, "It becomes clear what a substantial threat sea level rise will be," said Julie Wraithmell, director of Wildlife Conservation, Florida, for the National Audubon Society. 

Going Sockless In South Florida Can Be A Bit Hazardous

May 8, 2013
no socks
nick farnhill

Socks.

Those wonderful cotton foot huggers which absorb our sweat and decorate our ankles, are taking the day off.

At least for those who observe it, May 8 is No Socks Day.

But living in South Florida should make you think twice:

1. Bugs
We are always at the mercy of insects around us, and some of those insects bite. Two of them, the little fire ant and the red imported fire ant, are prevalent enough that the majority of South Floridians have probably suffered a painful sting if they have lived here for any real length of time.

Tricia Woolfenden / WLRN

Lionfish are the newest target of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation's (FWC) efforts to use social engagement to tackle the problem of exotic, invasives in the state. The FWC announced last week the launch of its "Lionfish Control Team" photo contest for the month of April.

Volunteers Pull 57,154 Pounds Of Litter From Natural Areas

Mar 27, 2013
Courtesy photo / ERM

On a recent Sunday morning, a group of hikers paused on a heavily canopied trail to observe a bird perched high atop a tree, its body silhouetted against the rising sun. A brief hush took hold as binoculars focused in on the back-lit bird, loudly churring its morning song. Bodies shifted for a better view, until: "Yep, great crested flycatcher!"

AZRainman / Flickr Creative Commons

Fire ants are notorious Florida invasives, leaving a trail of painful welts and blisters in their wake. Those pesky exotic intruders also happen to be a serious threat to some of the state's most vulnerable endemic species. This includes the Florida grasshopper sparrow, which recently made the March/April cover of Audubon Magazine as "the most endangered bird in the continental United States." 

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