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Living with Wildlife

Florida’s wildlife and human population are encountering each other more often than ever before. As humans develop more open space and wildlife habitat is reduced and fragmented, encounters between humans and wildlife become more common. For most people, observing wildlife is a thrilling experience, but when an animal causes damage or attempts to share your living space, that thrill can turn to irritation or fear.

Just like us, birds and other animals are doing their best to make a living and raise their young. Developing an appreciation and understanding of your wild neighbors can help you learn to accept them and live in harmony with them without resorting to extreme measures. Tips for keeping the awe in your wildlife experience.

  • Feeding wildlife accustoms them to humans and is a certain death sentence for bears, alligators and other species.
  • Making simple accommodations will often solve the problem of marauding raccoons and other critters. Remove the free meal attractant by feeding pets indoors, installing baffles on bird feeder poles and fastening trash cans lids with rubber straps.
  • Additional modifications, like constructing a bear-resistant garbage can caddy and securing compost piles, gardens and beehives behind bear-resistant electric fencing, will discourage black bears.
  • Bringing pets inside at night will keep them safe from hungry predators.
  • Cover possible entryways with hardware cloth to exclude squirrels, bats and other animals scouting out your home for a safe place to raise young.

Although relocation is sometimes necessary, trapping and relocating wildlife is a last resort and only warranted if all other measures have failed and an animal becomes a threat. Removing one animal may only serve to open up territory for others to move in. Rather than getting your feathers ruffled, make simple accommodations to avoid wildlife conflicts then relax and enjoy the wonders of wildlife in your own backyard.

 

 

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Snook reopens in Atlantic state waters

The recreational harvest season for snook reopens on Feb. 1 in Florida’s Atlantic coastal and inland waters (from the Miami-Dade/Monroe county line north), including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. The season will remain open through May 31.

In the Atlantic, anglers may keep one snook per day that is not less than 28 or more than 32 inches total length, which is measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side. A snook permit is required to keep snook, along with a saltwater fishing license, unless the angler is exempt from the license requirements. Only hook-and-line gear is allowed when targeting or harvesting snook.

It is illegal to buy or sell snook.

Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. As a result, the FWC encourages anglers to use moderation when determining whether or not to take a snook home, even during the open season.

Researchers ask anglers who harvest the fish to save their filleted carcasses and provide them to the FWC by dropping them off at a participating bait and tackle store. This program allows anglers to participate in the collection of data such as the size, age, maturity and sex of Florida’s premier inshore game fish, snook. For a county-by-county list, go to MyFWC.com/Research and click on “Saltwater,” “Snook,” and “Snook Anglers Asked to Help with Research.”

The harvest of snook in all of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico state waters, including Everglades National Park and all of Monroe County, remains closed until March 1. Snook harvested from the open waters of the Atlantic may not be transported through closed water or landed in the closed area. Anglers may catch and release snook during the closed season, but the FWC encourages anglers to handle and release these fish carefully to help ensure their survival upon release. Proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about fish handling, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”

For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.”