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Evacuations Issued As Irma Weakens To Category 4

Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties begin evacuations today as the first hurricane warnings were issued for parts of southern Florida with the state braced for what could be a catastrophic hit from Hurricane Irma over the weekend.

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CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER - The Florida Panther is fighting its way back from the brink of extinction, and members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition are seeing signs of the panther in their travels.

But the panther faces many dangers, as photojournalist and expedition member Carlton Ward Jr. tells WUSF.

A new study has some shocking news about wildlife in the Everglades. Raccoon and opossum sightings are down by 99 percent. Marsh rabbits and brown bunnies can’t be found at all. Sightings of bobcats, foxes and deer are also way down.

The culprit? Invasive species, like the Burmese Python. We discuss the impacts of invasive species with wildlife biologist Joe Guthrie as he hikes through the deepest, wildest parts of the Everglades.

You can see videos and photos of the expedition by clicking HERE.

Photo courtesy Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

A group of wildlife conservationists are currently traversing the length of Florida by kayak, bicycle - and on foot. It's one thousand miles in one hundred days, and WUSF is keeping up with the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition. They're calling attention to the need to connect the state's disjointed wild areas into a contiguous wildlife corridor.

They began two weeks ago at the tip of the Everglades, and they've paddled through some of the remotest swamps in Florida. But still, they say even places people seldom visit have been affected by the hand of man.

Steve Newborn

One thousand miles in 100 days. That's the goal of a wildlife expedition that's calling attention to the need to connect the state's disjointed wild areas into a contiguous wildlife corridor. Today, the group is paddling through some of the most remote swamps in the Everglades.

Steve Newborn/WUSF

 Four wildlife conservationists are paddling, hiking and biking through the wild heart of Florida. Their mission: to call attention to the need to connect the state's disjointed wildlife preserves into a corridor stretching from the Everglades to the Okeefenokee Swamp.

 A group of wildlife conservationists are camped at the southern tip of the Everglades, ready to take the first step in a thousand-mile journey up the central spine of Florida. Their mission: publicizing the need to connect the state's disjointed natural areas into a continuous wildlife corridor.

Twenty-five years ago, an event occurred that is seared into the memory of most Americans: About a minute after liftoff, the space shuttle Challenger blew apart, killing all aboard, including teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe.

The day started off innocently enough. It was unusually cold in Florida that day, but NASA managers decided to attempt a launch anyway. As a subsequent investigation made clear, the cold temperature made O-rings, which were intended to contain hot gases, fail on the solid rocket boosters.

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