Environment

The Argentine black and white tegu is one of the newest, biggest threats to Florida’s natural wildlife. The large, invasive lizard was first noticed in the wild roughly 10 years ago. Now, it has two main breeding populations and biologists are trying to contain them. They want to stop tegus from becoming established throughout the state.

State officials will step up enforcement Nov. 1 to prevent the harvest and sale of undersize oysters from Northwest Florida's Apalachicola Bay, as efforts continue to try to help the bay recover from a collapse three years ago.

"Things have gotten worse," Jim Estes, deputy director for marine fisheries management at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said Wednesday. "People are desperate, so there's quite a harvest of undersize oysters."

Judge Affirms Florida Bear Hunt

Oct 2, 2015

A judge has ruled Florida's first bear hunt in two decades may proceed later this month. The judge ruled against environmentalists who argue the hunt will damage the population of the animal that was removed from the state's threatened list in 2012.

Judge George Reynolds' decision came after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission appeared to shift its stance on a rule environmentalists had complained about.

Representatives of the state agency testified its executive director can end the hunt after the first day if its goal of 320 slain bears is met. Reynolds was satisfied.

One of the world's largest fertilizer makers is settling a massive hazardous waste lawsuit for nearly $2 billion to help clean up pollution and upgrade leaky facilities in Florida and Louisiana, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Al Gore Criticizes Rick Scott at Climate-Change Summit

Sep 29, 2015

Al Gore reserved most of his criticisms for the state Legislature and Florida’s power companies, who are fighting a proposed Florida constitutional amendment calling for more solar power. After a group aligned with the solar industry called Floridians for Solar Choice proposed the amendment, a power company-funded group called Consumers for Smart Solar began efforts to place a rival initiative on the ballot. "The coal burning electric utilities use their legacy political connections and power and wealth and lobbying and campaign contributions in order to absolutely control the state legislature and the governor's office so that the people of Florida are denied the laws and regulations and opportunities to take advantage of buying electricity for a cheaper price by turning away from the monopoly," Gore said. “The coal burning monopolies are trying to fool you.”

Wikipedia Commons

Business groups are again suing federal wildlife managers to try and force them to lessen legal protections for Florida's beloved manatees.

The Pacific Legal Foundation on Friday filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Ocala. The lawsuit seeks to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lessen legal protections for the sea cows.

Among concerns voiced by boaters and businesses are federal boat speed restrictions that they claim harm fishing and tourism on King's Bay, a popular manatee wintering spot.

Wikipedia Commons

Some Florida fishing guides say they're being crowded out of their preferred waters by a fish they can't keep.

Many commercial and recreational fishermen in northeast Florida and throughout the south Atlantic say they're seeing a banner year for red snapper - adding to their skepticism of data supporting federal regulations for the fish.

Putnam Puts Miami-Dade Under Fruit Fly Emergency

Sep 16, 2015

A type of fruit fly led Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Tuesday to declare a state of agricultural emergency in Miami-Dade County.

Wikipedia Commons

If there's one critter considered to be one of the emblems of Florida - besides the manatee, of course - and never mind the mouse - it's the Florida panther.

The felines once prowled the entire Southeast, but relentless hunting thinned the herd to a mere 30 animals by the 1960's. Protections were put in place, and their recovery has been successful enough that there have been a growing number of complaints among ranchers about panther attacks on cattle and other domesticated animals.

Florida agriculture officials have declared a state of emergency in Miami-Dade County, where an Oriental fruit fly infestation has the potential to attack hundreds of crops.

In a news release Tuesday, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the first fruit fly was detected Aug. 26. Since then, 158 flies have been detected, many in the Redland area of the county.

Fruit flies lay eggs in fruits and vegetables. They're considered one of the world's most serious pests due to the potential economic harm. The fly attacks more than 430 different fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Little Bird Key
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Four environmental groups recently sued the state over Amendment One, which overwhelmingly was passed by voters last year. They claim state officials are diverting money that should go into the state’s conservation land-buying fund. So other groups are trying to fill the gap. Recently, one of the most productive bird nesting islands in Tampa Bay was bought by the Audubon Society. WUSF takes us on a trip to Little Bird Key, and tells us why the group is trying to raise money to pay for it.

I hop aboard an outboard with Ann Paul, who manages Audubon Florida's Coastal Islands Sanctuaries. She points her boat to the newest wildlife refuge in Tampa Bay.

We knew El Niño was coming, and earlier today Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, made it official.

"2015's El Niño now ranks third behind 1997 and 1985", said Halpert.

'Smart Solar' Initiative Soaks Up Contributions

Sep 11, 2015

In a battle involving two solar-energy ballot initiatives, a political committee backed by major utilities collected $335,000 in August --- and had raised $798,000 in less than two months, according to a newly filed finance report.

The group, known as Consumers for Smart Solar, also had nearly $400,000 in the bank as September began.

Meanwhile, rival group Floridians for Solar Choice, which awaits a state Supreme Court decision on its proposed ballot language, appeared to be living almost paycheck-to-paycheck based on a financial report filed Thursday.

Busch Gardens Facebook

Busch Gardens says a 7-month-old baby gorilla died while under general anesthesia in Tampa.

A theme park spokesman said in a news release Thursday that Kamari, a western lowland gorilla, died Wednesday night.

Since she her February birth, Kamari hadn't developed properly. She had trouble supporting her body weight and didn't fully use her lower extremities.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioner is seeking a permit that would give her and other landowners legal coverage if they were to kill or harass endangered animals while developing thousands of acres in eastern Collier County.

The land includes habitat for the Florida panther. The commission helps oversee the species’ rebound.

This comes as the agency rethinks its role in the panther’s recovery plan. Some environmental organizations worry about the state’s timing.

FWC

Wildlife officials have approved the killing of 320 black bears next month during the state’s first bear hunting season in more than 20 years.

Environmental Groups Sue Over Amendment 1

Aug 30, 2015
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Service

Arguing that lawmakers "defied" a constitutional mandate, four environmental groups filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to force the state to shift $237 million to help carry out a conservation measure approved by voters in November.

The Florida Wildlife Federation, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, the Sierra Club and Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley Fuller filed the lawsuit in Leon County circuit court against Senate President Andy Gardiner, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

Tropical Storm Erika May Target Florida

Aug 26, 2015
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Tropical Storm Erika is currently disorganized, with inconsistent convection and an exposed center of circulation. The official forecast is for Erika to change little in strength on a track near the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico. Erika could strengthen into a hurricane near the Bahamas by Sunday.

Forecast models are in reasonable agreement with this track through Saturday, then diverge beyond. However, there are extreme differences in how strong Erika could be at this point.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be asked next week to set a quota of 320 bears for a controversial hunt in October.

The hunt, the first in the state in more than 20 years, has already attracted 1,795 hunters who have purchased permits, according to the commission.

Tropical Storm Erika is being watched by weather forecasters and hurricane trackers.
NOAA

Even as what was once Hurricane Danny dissolved, Tropical Storm Erika formed in the central tropical Atlantic.

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