Close encounters with manatees on the rise

Chances of a close encounter between Florida manatees and boaters increase in the spring. That’s when manatees leave their winter refuges and travel along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and through inland waters. For boaters, it is the time to be especially vigilant to avoid colliding with these large aquatic mammals. From April 1 through Nov. 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters … [Read more...]

Reptiles rule at GatorWorld

At this Central Florida tourist attraction, there are hundreds of alligators — to be seen, fed, and in some cases, touched. GatorWorld Parks of Florida opened its gates to visitors of all ages last fall, in Wildwood, on State Route 44 in Sumter County. The 15-acre park, off Interstate 75, is a family friendly attraction. Visitors can drive through the park and have prime viewing of … [Read more...]

Region has frigid wake-up call

The new year brought the first blast of winter to Pasco County, and to the Tampa Bay region. Freeze warnings and wind chill advisories rained down daily from the National Weather Service, as frigid air dipped into north and central Florida, and stayed for days. For the first time in decades, Tallahassee had measurable snowfall. Here in Tampa Bay, snow was a no-show, but temperatures … [Read more...]

Pasco County Health Department issues rabies alert

A rabies alert has been issued for a portion of Pasco County by Mike Napier, county health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County. The rabies alert has been issued for an area that’s generally west of Morris Bridge Road, south of State Road 54, east of Ashton Oaks Boulevard and north of Chancey Road. The alert came in response to a raccoon that tested positive for … [Read more...]

Disney’s gator nightmare packs lessons for us

Alligators are a fact of life in Florida. Walt Disney World is in Florida. Therefore, there are alligators at Walt Disney World. This truth at the East Coast headquarters of the Happiest Place On Earth™ came to shocking light recently when a 2-year-old from Nebraska, Lane Graves, was snatched and drowned by a gator lurking in the manmade Seven Seas Lagoon near the Grand Floridian Beach … [Read more...]

Exotic pets looking for homes, too, through amnesty program

Ever wanted to replace the traditional dog or cat, with a blue-tongued skink, or a green anaconda? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for qualified people willing to adopt exotic pets through its Exotic Pet Amnesty Program. These pets need new homes because owners who can no longer care for them have surrendered them to the state. New owners will need to … [Read more...]

License-free saltwater fishing day set for Sept. 6

Visitors and residents are being given an opportunity this weekend to try out saltwater fishing for a day without the need for a license. The event on Sept. 6 is part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's saltwater license-free fishing days, where the requirement to have a recreational saltwater fishing license is waived. However, all other regulations — such as seasons, … [Read more...]

Fish next two weekends without a license

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is allowing fishers to take to the waterways without the need for a recreational fishing license. Saltwater license-free fishing is available June 7 and June 8, while freshwater license-free fishing will take place June 14 and June 15. The program is designed to introduce people to fishing, without having to go through the licensing … [Read more...]

Scallop season could start earlier in the Gulf

Gov. Rick Scott is asking the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to open the bay scallop season three days earlier than normal. The idea, he said, would be to create additional recreational opportunities for Florida residents and visitors, and help provide an economic boost to coastal communities. "The bay scallop fishery is especially important to Florida's Big Bend region, and … [Read more...]

Look out for gopher tortoises on spring strolls

A gopher tortoise strolling across a road or through a backyard or field is a common sight during spring in Florida. Yet, as tortoises become increasingly active this time of year, they are vulnerable to being struck by vehicles, and injured or killed. Don’t forget to look out for these slow-moving reptiles with their bony-plated shells and elephantine legs, state officials said. They leave … [Read more...]