Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

'Operation Dry Water' Fights Boating Under The Influence

Jul 3, 2014
boats
Christopher League via Flickr

Last weekend the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, participated in its sixth annual Operation Dry Water. The national program is designed to prevent alcohol-related accidents and fatalities. 

Most citizens know what a DUI is, but what about a BUI?  Boating under the influence poses serious risks – enough to account for 15 percent of Florida’s boating fatalities for 2013, according to the FWC.

Here's a live Bay Scallop underwater in its shell
Florida Sea Grant via Flickr

Starting Saturday seafood lovers with a mask, a snorkel and a license will be able to catch a scallop dinner.  The recreational scalloping season is opening three days sooner than usual this year.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says the early start will give Floridians an extra weekend of scalloping.

“The great part about this season opening early is that will allow additional opportunities,” Nalley says.  “Instead of opening on a Tuesday, which is kind of mid-week, it’ll now open on a weekend.”

This is a close up shot of a gopher tortoise's face
Jay Williams via Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for community partners to help it protect gopher tortoises.  A meeting scheduled for Wednesday will offer a chance for local governments and the public to learn more about supporting the threatened species. 

Gopher Tortoise Program Coordinator Deborah Burr says the tortoise plays a much bigger role than its stolid demeanor might suggest.

Florida panther
FWC

Florida panthers have been listed as an endangered species since the '70s, and have been threatened by everything from disease to territory loss. But now, private landowners may hold the key to taking Florida’s state animal off the list.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, revealed in a Wednesday meeting that the Florida panther population is on the rise. Officials report the population estimate ranges between 100 and 180 animals, citing efforts including genetic restoration and improved roads as reasons for the increase.  

FWC's Flickr account

Florida wildlife officials have approved a series of rules aimed at combating the invasive species lionfish, including an importation ban.

At a Wednesday meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved new rules to make it illegal to import lionfish into the state from other countries or other states for use in the aquarium trade. FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says the reason for the ban—which takes effect August 1st—is two-fold.

FWC Unveils New App To Combat Invasive Lionfish

May 28, 2014
Lionfish
FWC

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, is taking an unconventional approach to combating invasive species. Its new smartphone app may hold the key to eliminating lionfish from the Florida coasts.

 

The FWC took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to announce its newest smartphone app titled Report Florida Lionfish. Through the app, users can submit lionfish data such as population size, location and how the fish are being harvested.

 

Bills Address Derelict Vessels On Land And At Sea

Apr 8, 2014
A map of florida showing derelict vessel locations
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission / Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Imagine a map of Florida. Now ask yourself: what’s the most prominent geographical feature of the state? You might have said: it’s surrounded on three sides by water. That makes it a haven for boaters. But what about the boats themselves – what happens when they’re not in use? The boats are often abandoned -- but there’s legislation aimed at fixing that.

Lionfish Import, Sale Ban Advances In Florida Senate

Mar 20, 2014
Lionfish
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

In the ongoing battle against a non-native fish invading state waters, a Senate committee passed a bill today that prohibits lionfish from being imported or raised in Florida. Fish sellers say they support the general idea of the ban but still have some reservations.

Tanks full of colorful fish line the walls of Carol’s Critters pet shop in Tallahassee, where Jerry Peterson holds the title of Fish Manager. He stops next to a 75-gallon tank. This, he says, is where the lionfish would be if they were in stock.

Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute

Finding out the source of a mysterious animal die off in the Indian River Lagoon is the goal of many researchers and scientists across the state. They’re searching for clues into the massive amount of unusual deaths of manatees, dolphins, and pelicans in what’s known as one of the nation’s most biologically diverse estuaries.

CSI: Indian River Lagoon

Taking a tour of the Southern part of Indian River Lagoon, Its Riverkeeper Marty Baum points out a small pod of dolphins frolicking in one part of the 156-mile estuary.

LHatter / WFSU News

For most of the summer and into the fall, a number of Florida water bodies have experienced algae blooms. One popular Tallahassee lake is now experiencing a bloom, and one state official points to a nearby neighborhood as a possible cause.

Tallahassee’s Lake Lafayette is a popular fishing and walking spot. It’s actually three lakes, broken up by a series of dams. The portion of the lake experiencing the algae bloom is the section that backs up to Conner Boulevard, in the Piney Z Plantation community.

Thomas Andrew Gustafson

Millions of dollars in 2010 Gulf oil spill settlement money have been set aside for an Apalachicola Bay oyster restoration study. The project comes on the heels of the Panhandle bay suffering a devastating 50 percent loss of its oyster harvest.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will spend five years evaluating a common oyster restoration method: putting down empty oyster shells -- called "substrate" in seafood worker lingo -- in the hope that baby oysters will attach to them.

R.Benk / WFSU-News

For two decades commercial fishermen and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have battled over rules regulating the size of holes on fishing nets. Fishermen say smaller mesh decimates fish populations, while FWC officials say it’s the larger mesh that does the real harm. But, one scientist says both parties are guilty of telling fish stories.

William Folsom / NOAA

This Sunday, people can fish in Florida without a license. License-free days are the state’s way of inviting people to try fishing, an industry that brings in about $5 billion dollars annually.

At Crum’s Mini Mall in the Florida Panhandle, bait and tackle shop owner Ronald Crum is adding staff ahead of Labor Day Weekend.

“And the fish are biting," he says.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Florida wildlife officials are asking for residents’ help in reporting sightings of rare snakes. They’re working to determine whether the snakes should be bumped up to the federal endangered status.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists want the public to report sightings of three snakes: the Florida pine snake, southern hognose snake, and short-tailed snake. FWC Spokesman Kevin Baxter says with residents help, researchers can then determine whether these snakes qualify as a federally threatened species.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The number of bear sightings is on the rise in the Florida Panhandle.  State wildlife officials are holding a workshop to teach residents how to safely cohabitate with the bears.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Thousands of Florida residents and visitors are expected for this year’s recreational Spiny Lobster Season. The two-day sport season opens Wednesday and Thursday.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says as many as 30,000 people are expected to flock to the South Florida region—the main area for recreational Spiny Lobster Season.

State Asks Public To Report Wild Mink Sightings

Jul 17, 2013

State of Florida biologists are calling for the public to help them study potentially endangered wild mink, the small animals perhaps best known for becoming luxurious coats. Mink are thought to live in several parts of the state.

Mink are small, chocolate brown animals similar in shape to ferrets. They’re rare in Florida, and state biologist Jeff Gore is on a team trying to determine if their numbers are growing or shrinking. And he’s asking for the public’s help.

Bay Scallop Season will start a little earlier this year. Normally, the season to allow for the harvesting of bay scallops opens on July 1st. But, this year, Governor Rick Scott asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to start the season Saturday, two days ahead of schedule, says FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker.

Wild Times At The Capitol

Mar 12, 2013
R. Benk / WFSU-FM

The Florida Capitol was more of a jungle than usual Tuesday, when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up shop with all manner of critters. The Commission wants citizens and legislators alike to know the importance of conserving the natural environment of our state.

State Recovers Stolen Artifacts

Feb 27, 2013
R.Benk / WFSU-FM

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has recovered almost $4- million in ancient artifacts as the result of a covert investigation. The two year probe seems as though it was ripped from the pages of an Indiana Jones script.

The Bass Was 'THIS Big!' And FWC Wants To Know About It

Feb 25, 2013

Saving the freshwater bass of Florida could be as easy as going fishing. A new Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission program called Trophy Catch is turning that prized catch into a data collection service for the Commission.

2013 Python Challenge Ends With More Education Than Snakes Caught

Feb 15, 2013

The Everglades Python Challenge is slithering to a close this weekend. And while all the attention over the past month focused on the hunt, the challenge was also a learning experience.

The official tally of Burmese pythons harvested won’t be announced until the big closing event Saturday. But counting python skins wasn’t the only purpose of the contest.

To Fight Invasive Species, Florida Makes It A Competition

Dec 7, 2012

In South Florida, bagging some snakes could win you some money. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be cracking down on invasive pythons in South Florida in the New Year. The agency and its partners will be holding the 2013 Python Challenge to catch as many snakes as possible.

Weekend Oyster Harvesting Put On Hold In Apalachicola Bay

Nov 9, 2012

Starting next week, it will be off-limits to commercially harvest oysters on the weekend in Apalachicola Bay. State officials made the decision after finding the oyster population cannot sustain the minimum harvest. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hoping the closure will give the oysters time to recover their lost numbers.

In today’s economy, it can be tough for anyone, especially returning military veterans, to find a job.  Tom Flanigan reports the State of Florida is now trying to make it easier for vets to create their own jobs in the commercial fishing industry.
 

Every Veterans Day, there are parades, parties, celebrations, proclamations and much rhetoric about service and sacrifice.  Steve Murray with the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs says all this is nice, but it doesn’t pay the rent or put food on the table.

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