Manatee downlisting approved, challenge issued on ruling
Unsurprisingly, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission members unanimously voted to downlist manatees
from “endangered” to “threatened.” The
same status change was made for bald eagles, while
gopher tortoises and Panama City crawfish saw a reversal - an
enhancement of their listings.
|Gall is a black-colored fungus that grows on limbs and trunks of mangroves. It doesn't seem to harm the tree, but does appear to make the limb or trunk more susceptible to breaking in high winds. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy
A group of 17 environmental
organizations have challenged the manatee status change,
saying the action by FWC is flawed.
up is drafting of management plans for each species.
Those plans should be ready for review by early next
There are something like 3,000 manatees roaming Florida’s waters. Last
year, about 400 died, 80 from collisions with boats. It was the second-highest
boat mortality rate for sea cows on record, giving ammunition to the environmentalist’s
argument that the downlisting was in error.
The FWC also bumped up the slot limit
for snook last week by an inch. Keeper linesiders are
now 27 to 34 inches in length, or will be when the
season reopens in September.
There is also a measuring
change that will go into effect this fall. “That regulation requires
snook to be measured by determining the straight-line distance 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 together, while the fish is lying
on its side,” according
to the FWC.
The wildlife regulators estimate the snook
change will decrease snook harvest 22 percent in the
Gulf of Mexico and 12 percent in the Atlantic Ocean.
Just as a reminder, FWC stated that “The
harvest of snook is prohibited from Dec. 15 through Jan. 31 statewide and from
June through August on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
“On the Gulf Coast and waters of
Monroe County and Everglades National Park, snook harvest is not allowed from
May through August. At all other times, a recreational daily bag limit of two
snook per person applies on the Atlantic coast; the limit on the Gulf Coast
and waters of Monroe County and Everglades National
Park is one snook daily
per person. Licensed saltwater anglers must purchase
a $2 permit. Snatch-hooking and spearing snook are
prohibited, and it is illegal to buy or sell snook.”
Poor Boca Grande. Long an enclave for
the rich and famous - the whole Bush family tends to vacation there during
the Christmas holidays - the small barrier island that straddles Charlotte
and Lee counties is also home to a burgeoning population of iguanas.
black spiny-tail iguanas outnumber fulltime residents
there 10-fold, with a population of the four-legged
creatures estimated at 10,000.
The critters face off pedestrians and
golf-cart riders on the sidewalks, munch through the
luxurious landscaping and burrow into the sand dunes.
They also ravage the sea turtle nests on the island,
devouring eggs like popcorn.
Boca Grande residents said enough is enough
earlier this year and begged for something to be done.
Lee County came up with a special taxing district for
the island to curb the population boom of the lizards,
which can grow up to 2 feet in length.
But how to rid the island of
According to a report in the Sarasota
Herald-Tribune, iguana eradication isn’t all that quick or easy.
you can shoot them, as some residents have proudly
proclaimed they are doing, but shooting firearms can
Sure, residents and businesses could trap the reptiles,
but animal cruelty laws require the critters be out
of the trap within 24 hours. What to do with them?
Where to put them? Would they establish an iguana jail?
No, biologists with the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission advised, the best
bet is to get professional trappers with the U.S. Department
Agriculture involved in the proceedings,
at a cost of upwards of $100,000.
And even at that expense, it is estimated
that only about 80 percent of the big lizards would
still a lot of pondering going on around the watering holes in Boca Grande.
Iguanas are just another
example of exotics gone wild in beautiful Florida.
Look at the gall of those mangroves!
those “walking trees” that
line much of our shoreline in the bays. Red mangroves have red prop roots that
act as home to fish and other marine life, and tend to accumulate sediment
and cause islands to grow in size.
They are hardy trees, slow-growing but
able to withstand hurricanes and other natural dangers.
They also have a problem
with fungus, called gall, that forms big black boil-like
clumps on the trunk.
much research on mangrove gall. It doesn’t seem to impact the trees all
that much, although the juncture of gall-mangrove does make the tree limb or
trunk more prone to break in high winds.
Perhaps the limb breaks caused by gall
serve as a means to add more detritus to the food chain
for little guys to eat, then get eaten by bigger and
bigger guys, and so on ...?
The iguana population explosion
in Boca Grande is believed to have started with the
release of pets into the wilds in the 1970s. With no
natural predators and an abundance of food, the population
has soared over the years.
And yeah, they’re
supposed to be edible, tasting like ... you guessed
it ... chicken.