this is why Florida can't have nice things

Year In Review
7:43 am
Tue December 31, 2013

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

Credit 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. 

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Weird News
12:30 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Florida Capitol's Holiday Display Now Includes A Spaghetti Monster

A Flying Spaghetti Monster sits in front of the Florida Capitol's Festivus pole.
Credit 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.

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Invasive Species
2:43 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Got Giant African Land Snails? Release The Hounds!

Will sniff snails for treats: Bear, a three-year-old black lab, is being trained to follow the scent of giant African land snails.
Credit 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

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Weird Florida
6:00 am
Tue July 2, 2013

New Blog To Cover Florida's Ironic (But Hilarious) Shortcomings All Month Long

The Mosely Flag: The flag was hoisted by Governor William D. Moseley on March 3, 1845 when Florida became the 27th state. It never became an official state flag because of controversy about the motto "Let us alone".
Credit 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.

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Environment
6:01 am
Tue May 28, 2013

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

The fire ant is getting burned by yet another new invasive in Florida.
Credit 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. 

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Climate Change
6:03 am
Wed May 15, 2013

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

Shore birds in South Florida are facing down the threat of rising sea levels.
Credit 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. 

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No Socks Day
12:00 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Going Sockless In South Florida Can Be A Bit Hazardous

Credit 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:

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FWC Zeros In On Lionfish
9:03 am
Tue April 2, 2013

In The Fight Against A Lionfish Invasion, Florida Turns To Creative Photo Contest

Invasive, exotic lionfish have infiltrated the waters at Biscayne Bay National Park and elsewhere in South Florida.
Credit 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.

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The Environment
8:00 am
Wed March 27, 2013

Volunteers Pull 57,154 Pounds Of Litter From Natural Areas

ERM volunteers pull old tires and other debris from a Palm Beach County-managed natural area.
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!"

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Florida grasshopper sparrows vs. fire ants
7:01 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Here's One Way To Help The Almost-Extinct Grasshopper Sparrow: Kill Fire Ants

Less popular than even the Burmese python? The red imported fire ant is a blight on Florida's landscape.
Credit 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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We're Going To Need A Bigger Boat
2:49 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

South Florida Beaches Reopen After Shark Scare

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 2:30 pm

Several beaches in South Florida are open again following their closure earlier this week as a precautionary measure after thousands of migrating sharks were spotted near shore.

The Palm Beach Post reports that as of 9 a.m. ET, all Palm Beach County beaches were open because no more sharks had been spotted swimming near shore.

According to the newspaper:

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Performance-enhancing drugs
6:00 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

South Florida May Be Source Of Banned Drugs In Major League Baseball

A pipeline for banned drugs may start in South Florida.
Credit Sean Winters/Flickr

South Florida may be a source for banned performance-enhancing drugs making their way into major league baseball.

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Environment
7:00 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Why The Everglades National Park Is Handing Out Anti-Vulture Kits

Black vultures sometimes rip the rubber and vinyl parts off of cars.
Credit Brian Henderson/Flickr

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.

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Media
9:32 am
Thu December 27, 2012

The 2012 Weird Stories That Defined Florida

BIG BLUE EYE: It washed ashore on a South Florida Beach to become one of the year's weird stories. Now we know: It came from a swordfish.
Credit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The end of the year is approaching and the news columns and web sites of a hungry nation are filling up with weird Florida stories, each supposedly an illustration of the character, lifestyle and unholy preoccupations of our strange, strange state.

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WLRN Staff Picks
10:29 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Why South Florida Can't Have Nice Things

Florida, you give us a lot to report.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

We all know South Florida can be a pretty weird place, and it's something of a holiday tradition for news organizations around the state to put together lists of the weirdest stories of the year.

We decided to go straight to the people on the front lines, WLRN's anchors, producers, editors and reporters, and ask them what they thought were the most bizarre Florida stories of 2012. 

Some stories were funny, others perplexing and some macabre.

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