Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Four teams of scientists are sharing $15.5 million in BP oil spill money to study the sustainability of fish, other sea life, and birds in regard to the Gulf of Mexico.

Two of the teams are from Florida, including the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which will receive the largest grant, about $6 million. Lead researcher Luiz Barbieri says the money’s coming through NOAA -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge

The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge has already had a busy year when it comes to baby animals.

Now, they’ve added nearly 80 baby squirrels to the mix.

“We’ve already had an unusually busy year,” said Executive Director Stormy Andersen. “At one point, we had 150 different baby species at the facility. The baby squirrels started last week with 56. It’s crazy.”

Santa Rosa Island Authority

Three weeks into the 2018 season, the first sea turtle nests soon will begin to appear on area beaches.

Locally, Gulf Islands National Seashore is responsible for protecting and managing nests within the seashore and on Pensacola Beach. This year, GINS is implementing new sea turtle nesting protocols that limit human interaction.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is out with its 2017 Boating Accident Statistical Report, in time for National Safe Boating Week, which runs through Saturday.

Florida had 766 boating accidents last year, a seven percent rise from 2016, but there was no jump in fatalities -- 67 as with the previous year. Operator’s inattention was the leading cause of the 261 reported collisions among other accidents, and drowning was the most prevalent cause of death.

FWC

With black bear sightings on the rise in Santa Rosa County, local officials are asking the state for help. One official is taking the lead after a close encounter.

County Commissioner Bob Cole’s wife recently discovered an unwanted visitor to their home in Milton.

“We keep the dog and cat foot in trash cans inside the garage,” Cole said. “That particular day, my wife had the garage door open; she later that day found the trash can turned over and the dog food gone. We had seen a bear several weeks prior to that in the woods next to the garage.”

pbs.org

As east Texas continues to be deluged by the remnants of Hurricane Harvey, help is coming from a number of states, including Florida. And some of that assistance is from the Panhandle.

“This has happened to us, we know what its like,” said Jerry Kindle, Executive Director of the American Red Cross' northwest Florida chapter. "The Gulf Coast has always been a very giving community, and we appreciate all the assistance we’re getting.”

The deployments from the Red Cross' service area in the Panhandle began Friday to both Texas and Louisiana.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

If you took a walk on some sections of Pensacola Beach over the last few weeks, you may have come across some areas that were off limits to humans. "That's something that's been going on for years, now. It's just postings to mark off the fact that there are nesting shore birds in the area" said Becca Nelson, the Public Information Director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We want people to know to keep their distance. We want people to respect those posted areas. A lot of times the birds and their nests and their hatchlings are hard to see.

nps.gov

With May 1 the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in the Florida Panhandle, preparations are being made for one of the area’s most welcome summer guests.

Five species of sea turtles are found in the Gulf of Mexico, three of which are known to nest on Pensacola Beach: the loggerhead, the green turtle, and the Kemp’s Ridley. Of those, the loggerhead is most common.

Governor Rick Scott has placed Florida under a state of emergency because of recent wildfires and the high potential for increased wildfires to continue.

The fires across the state have burned more than two-and-a-half times more acreage in the first three months of 2017, than during the same period a year ago. Currently, more than 100 active wildfires are scorching over 20,000 acres statewide.

FWC

  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has signed an agreement with a trash and recycling firm, aimed at reducing human-bear conflicts in Northwest Florida.

The memorandum of understanding with the firm Waste Pro USA comes after FWC in June narrowly voted against holding a bear hunt this year. The black bear population has grown from about 500 in the 1970s, to an estimated 4,300 adult bears today.

operationdrywater.org

If you’re planning a boating excursion this weekend that includes alcohol, it’s best you leave the imbibing to those not behind the wheel.

“Operation Dry Water 2016” is set for this Friday through Sunday, June 24-26. It’s part of a nationwide crackdown on BUI – boating under the influence. FWC Lt. Seth Wagner with says being sober is part of knowing your vessel and yourself. The rule of thumb is: when in doubt of the situation, go slow.

Photo via Flickr//Mrio / https://flic.kr/p/cdSxaL

National Safe Boating Week kicked off Saturday, and runs through the Memorial Day weekend.

With more than 900,000, Florida leads the nation in the number of registered vessels. The 10-day “week” is aimed at reminding those planning to spend time on the water this summer to do it safely. Part of that advice comes from Capt. Tom Shipp of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Photo via Flickr// Florida Fish and Wildlife / https://flic.kr/p/nzFLdu

Residents in the Florida Panhandle are being encouraged to become “Bear Aware:” keeping bears and other wildlife away from their homes.

Florida’s largest land mammal is a conservation success story. Only a few hundred black bears were around in the 1970s. Today, more than 4,300 roam the state and, in some cases, they mosey into residential areas.

Phot via Flickr// Florida FWC / https://flic.kr/p/FsZoqd

This is “Spring Aboard” week, as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages boaters to enroll in a boating education course.

According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, figures from 2014 show the level of operator education was known, 82% of boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had never received any boating instruction.

It’s a simple concept, says Brian Rehwinkle at FWC; an educated boater is a safer boater.

Photo via Flickr// Kim / https://flic.kr/p/ocUMBv

As the spring and summer boating seasons in Florida get underway, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is kicking off the “Wear It Florida” campaign, to encourage more use of personal floatation devices, i.e. life jackets.

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