Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

FWC

With black bear sightings on the rise in Santa Rosa County, local officials are asking the state for help. One official is taking the lead after a close encounter.

County Commissioner Bob Cole’s wife recently discovered an unwanted visitor to their home in Milton.

“We keep the dog and cat foot in trash cans inside the garage,” Cole said. “That particular day, my wife had the garage door open; she later that day found the trash can turned over and the dog food gone. We had seen a bear several weeks prior to that in the woods next to the garage.”

pbs.org

As east Texas continues to be deluged by the remnants of Hurricane Harvey, help is coming from a number of states, including Florida. And some of that assistance is from the Panhandle.

“This has happened to us, we know what its like,” said Jerry Kindle, Executive Director of the American Red Cross' northwest Florida chapter. "The Gulf Coast has always been a very giving community, and we appreciate all the assistance we’re getting.”

The deployments from the Red Cross' service area in the Panhandle began Friday to both Texas and Louisiana.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

If you took a walk on some sections of Pensacola Beach over the last few weeks, you may have come across some areas that were off limits to humans. "That's something that's been going on for years, now. It's just postings to mark off the fact that there are nesting shore birds in the area" said Becca Nelson, the Public Information Director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We want people to know to keep their distance. We want people to respect those posted areas. A lot of times the birds and their nests and their hatchlings are hard to see.

nps.gov

With May 1 the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in the Florida Panhandle, preparations are being made for one of the area’s most welcome summer guests.

Five species of sea turtles are found in the Gulf of Mexico, three of which are known to nest on Pensacola Beach: the loggerhead, the green turtle, and the Kemp’s Ridley. Of those, the loggerhead is most common.

Governor Rick Scott has placed Florida under a state of emergency because of recent wildfires and the high potential for increased wildfires to continue.

The fires across the state have burned more than two-and-a-half times more acreage in the first three months of 2017, than during the same period a year ago. Currently, more than 100 active wildfires are scorching over 20,000 acres statewide.

FWC

  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has signed an agreement with a trash and recycling firm, aimed at reducing human-bear conflicts in Northwest Florida.

The memorandum of understanding with the firm Waste Pro USA comes after FWC in June narrowly voted against holding a bear hunt this year. The black bear population has grown from about 500 in the 1970s, to an estimated 4,300 adult bears today.

operationdrywater.org

If you’re planning a boating excursion this weekend that includes alcohol, it’s best you leave the imbibing to those not behind the wheel.

“Operation Dry Water 2016” is set for this Friday through Sunday, June 24-26. It’s part of a nationwide crackdown on BUI – boating under the influence. FWC Lt. Seth Wagner with says being sober is part of knowing your vessel and yourself. The rule of thumb is: when in doubt of the situation, go slow.

Photo via Flickr//Mrio / https://flic.kr/p/cdSxaL

National Safe Boating Week kicked off Saturday, and runs through the Memorial Day weekend.

With more than 900,000, Florida leads the nation in the number of registered vessels. The 10-day “week” is aimed at reminding those planning to spend time on the water this summer to do it safely. Part of that advice comes from Capt. Tom Shipp of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Photo via Flickr// Florida Fish and Wildlife / https://flic.kr/p/nzFLdu

Residents in the Florida Panhandle are being encouraged to become “Bear Aware:” keeping bears and other wildlife away from their homes.

Florida’s largest land mammal is a conservation success story. Only a few hundred black bears were around in the 1970s. Today, more than 4,300 roam the state and, in some cases, they mosey into residential areas.

Phot via Flickr// Florida FWC / https://flic.kr/p/FsZoqd

This is “Spring Aboard” week, as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages boaters to enroll in a boating education course.

According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, figures from 2014 show the level of operator education was known, 82% of boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had never received any boating instruction.

It’s a simple concept, says Brian Rehwinkle at FWC; an educated boater is a safer boater.

Photo via Flickr// Kim / https://flic.kr/p/ocUMBv

As the spring and summer boating seasons in Florida get underway, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is kicking off the “Wear It Florida” campaign, to encourage more use of personal floatation devices, i.e. life jackets.

Photo via Flickr// Robert S Donovan / https://flic.kr/p/9ZWVLK

Although they’ve been around for about 110 million years, sea turtles are now facing a new, 21st century hazard: flash photos from cell phones.

March 1 is the official start of sea turtle nesting and hatching season downstate. It’s May 1 in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

A leatherback sea turtle was released back into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, following rehabilitation at  Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach. The large recently stranded female weighed in at 608 pounds, over 100 pounds heavier than originally estimated.

The turtle underwent a 4-day treatment period under Gularium’s Sea Turtle CARE (Conserve, Act, Rehabilitate, Educate) Program.

City of Pensacola

  Bids will soon begin flowing in, for construction of Florida’s first saltwater production hatchery at Bruce Beach in downtown Pensacola.

The idea for a hatchery in Pensacola first surfaced in 2011. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had announced plans to build 14 of them around the state over the next 15 years, to help restock depleted fish populations in state waters.

“These things take a while to actually manifest themselves, but I want to assure folks that this project is 100% go,” said Gil McRae, Director of FWC’s Research Institute.

floridasportsman.com

While boating is a year-round sport in Florida, the traditional start is marked by Safe Boating Week – now through Friday by the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

According to FWC’s 2014 Boating Accident Statistical Report, there were 634 reportable boating accidents in Florida last year, resulting in 73 fatalities.

Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition

Pensacola is hosting the first ever annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival and Tournament this weekend. The event is being organized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in conjunction with the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition and several other local partners. The goal is to raise awareness about the threat lionfish are posing to the Gulf Coast ecosystem and fisheries.

www.nfwf.org

  The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation this week announced the release of nearly $100 million  for Gulf Restoration Projects. That includes $34.3 million for nine projects in Florida, as well as four projects totaling $9.6 million in Alabama.

Photo via Flickr//Florida Fish And Wildlife Commission

Gulf Power is adjusting some street lights after the death of a nesting loggerhead turtle on Perdido Key last week. The turtle had crawled across the beach and onto Perdido Key Drive where it was struck and killed by a vehicle. Officials speculate that it was attracted and confusing by a street light on the road. Jeff Rogers,a spokesman for Gulf Power, says the lights on Perdido Key drive are "full cut-off" lights that are designed to limit sea turtle confusion.

NOAA FishWatch

The 52-day recreational fishing season for Gulf red snapper is now open in state waters. The federal season opens on June 1 and will run just nine days, the shortest in history.

The Gulf red snapper population was first determined to be overfished in the 1980s. Commercial and recreational quotas have been in place since the 1990s. Overfishing ended in 2009. Roy Crabtree is the southeast regional administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service.

Photo via Flickr//Abraham Chacko

Fifty-two is the magic number for recreational fishing for red snapper in Florida waters for 2014. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports that’s how many days the species can be sought.

Meeting on Wednesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set the red snapper period from May 24 -- the Saturday before Memorial Day – through July 14. Amanda Nally at FWC says the dates are by design to include two of the three summer holidays.

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