Archery Hunting Season Begins Saturday

compound bowSaturday, August 10th, 2013 marks the beginning of a 9-day Archery hunting season at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails, Caracara Prairie Preserve, and in portions of the Flint Pen Strand unit of CREW. Archery season regulations for CREW are excerpted below. Complete regs can be accessed at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission website.

The Cypress Dome Trails will remain open to other users – hikers, bikers, geocachers – during hunting seasons. However, camping and horseback permits will not be issued during hunt seasons. Hikers and bikers are encouraged to wear bright colors (hunter orange) when hiking during hunting seasons. No hunting is allowed at the CREW Marsh Trails or at the Bird Rookery Swamp Trails.

Archery Season: August 10-18

Permit, Stamp and License Requirements – Quota permit, hunting license, management area permit, archery permit, deer permit (if hunting deer) and migratory bird permit (if hunting migratory birds).

Legal to Hunt – Deer with at least 1 antler 5 inches or more in length, wild hog, gray squirrel, quail, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk, nutria and migratory birds in season.

Regulations Unique to Archery Season-

  1. Hunting deer is prohibited in the Corkscrew Marsh Unit.
  2. Hunting with guns or crossbows (except by disabled crossbow permit) is prohibited, except that centerfire shotguns are allowed for hunting migratory birds when 1 or more species are legal to hunt (see Migratory Bird section and the current Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations pamphlet).

CREW lands are open to a variety of public recreational use activities. One of the most historical and storied recreational uses of CREW is hunting. Hunting is an important wildlife management tool and provides many sportsmen and sportswomen a way to enjoy the outdoors and put food on their tables. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has designated CREW as a Wildlife & Environmental Area (WEA) and regulates the hunting rules and seasons on CREW lands. FWC law enforcement officers patrol CREW lands all year long.


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CREW Deer Monitoring Reveals Unexpected Wildlife Encounter

Monitoring wildlife populations helps us understand the health and status of various species and provides essential information when making land and wildlife management decisions at CREW.

Kathleen Smith, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission biologist assigned to CREW, conducts  deer surveys in portions of CREW using remote sensing cameras. In addition to providing information on the deer populations, these surveys help test specific methods for estimating deer populations. Using baited stations with remote sensing cameras set up nearby, the bait stations and cameras are deployed for about two weeks. Then the photos are analyzed and deer numbers, gender, ages, and activity recorded.

Anytime remote cameras are set up in the woods, it is expected that a variety of wildlife will appear and be captured as they enter the viewfinder of the camera. But you don’t always expect “action shots” of animals doing crazy things in the wild. This year, however, was an exception. As the photos got downloaded to the computers, and Kathleen and her team were quickly flipping through them, one particular action shot caught their attention. Take a look at the following sequence of photos to see what caught their eye… (click on each photo for a larger image)

Raccoon visits bait station (Photo by FFWCC)
Raccoon visits bait station (Photo by FFWCC)
Alligator attacks raccoon (Photo by FFWCC)
Alligator attacks raccoon (Photo by FFWCC)
Alligator after attack on raccoon (Photo by FFWCC)
Alligator after attack on raccoon (Photo by FFWCC)

How’s that for a surprise? Pretty amazing timing for a remote camera shot! And so much for the bait station! What do you think…did the raccoon get away?

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Deb Hanson in News-Press video on Rainfall

Deb Hanson in water (Photo by Andrew West/News-Press)
Deb Hanson in water (Photo by Andrew West/News-Press)

The CREW Land & Water Trust’s environmental education specialist, Deb Hanson, went for a rainy season walk through the White loop at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails last week with news-Press reporter Chad Gillis and photographer Andrew West. Today, the News-Press published the article about rainfall in southwest Florida, and Deb is featured on the front page of the print paper and on a video here on the News-Press website. Nice to see CREW in the newspaper. Thanks to Chad and Andrew for both the fun walk and the great spread in the paper!


How to Report a Python Sighting at CREW

…or a boa, or any other non-native, invasive snake.

You’ve seen the news reports. You know they are here. But have you ever actually seen a python while out hiking in southwest Florida? And what should you do if you see one at CREW?

Python photo from FFWCC

The first known sighting of a python in CREW occurred in Bird Rookery Swamp in 2005. Since then, no other sightings have been reported in the watershed – until this year. In June 2013, a 10-foot python was seen near the CREW field office off Corkscrew Road in Lee County. Last week, a 9-foot common boa was found by exotic plant treatment contractors in Flint Pen Strand off Bonita Beach Road.

These two recent sightings confirm that these large non-native snakes are moving into the CREW watershed, so we want you to know what to do if you see one while out hiking on the CREW trails.

  • First – do not approach the snake, but do confirm its identity, and if you can, take a photo and mark the GPS coordinates of the snake’s location.
  • Second – if the python or boa is still in your view and staying put, call the FWC Exotic Species Hotline number 888-IVE-GOT1 (888- 483-4681) to report the location.
  • If the snake is moving away and out of your sight, report it using the IVEGOT1 smartphone app for iPhone or Android or the website form at (register ahead of time, so you don’t have to do that part in the field)
  • Do not attempt to remove the snake. Only permitted, trained individuals may remove pythons or boas (also known as conditional species) and even then only from certain Wildlife Management Areas and other public lands with permits/permission from both FWC and the landowner.

And if you want to get more involved, you can complete this online training course from the University of Florida that will help you recognize and report large invasive reptiles. (REDDY – Reptile Early Detection and Documentation training)

REDDY Training

Additional info:

Quick Reference guides:

Reporting your sighting helps FWC, the SFWMD, and other agencies manage these invasive exotic species and determine their distribution and range. Burmese pythons and boas  are non-native snakes introduced in Florida by accidental and intentional releases by pet owners. They can be found in or near freshwater aquatic habitats like marshes and swamps and can grow up to 20 feet in length. They eat alligators, birds, mice, rabbits, raccoons, deer, and other small mammals. To learn more, visit the Python pages on the FWC website.

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CREW Water Levels Rising Fast

The Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) encompasses approximately 60,000 acres, running from Corkscrew Road in Lee County south beyond Immokalee Road in Collier County. You can see a map of the whole watershed here. When it rains enough for the ground to get saturated, water levels rise and then the water “sheet flows” downhill across the surface of the land.

In CREW, it takes about a week for the water to flow from the north part of the watershed to the south part. With the summer rains we’ve been lucky to get this year, we are seeing that sheet flow in action. CREW volunteer George Luther installed a few water level posts at Bird Rookery Swamp last year. He’s been recording measurements regularly and recently reported the change in water levels at the parking lot pond there. Take a look at the chart below showing the rise since July 1st.

Water Level Rise at Bird Rookery Swamp July 1 - 15, 2013
Water Level Rise at Bird Rookery Swamp July 1 – 15, 2013

We haven’t seen water levels like this during the early summer months here at CREW for a long time. This is great for water recharge and our drinking water supply. And the woods are teeming with wetland critters. It’ll be interesting to see what other changes occur as levels continue to rise as the summer goes on… What’s the highest water level you’ve experienced at CREW?

Water over Shady Hollow Blvd.
Water over Shady Hollow Blvd. at the entrance to Bird Rookery Swamp parking lot – July 15, 2013 (Photo by George Luther)
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Photo Gallery: BRS Summer Wildlife

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CREW volunteer naturalist George Luther took a photo safari at Bird Rookery Swamp (BRS) on the 4th of July and reported an extraordinary number of Ruddy Daggerwing butterflies and many species of dragonflies. He also spotted deer, kites, and lots of other wildlife active on the trails. (See his photo gallery above)

The water levels are rising rapidly with the recent rains, which sheet flow into Bird Rookery from the CREW headwaters – the Corkscrew Marsh in the northeast – and through Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

If you haven’t yet ventured to a CREW trail this summer, come visit. It is a remarkable time to be out in the woods, marshes, and swamps.

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Gulfshore Life Magazine Highlights CREW Volunteer George Luther

Back in May, we told you CREW volunteer, George Luther had received a Paradise Coast/Collier County Tourism Award for his Nature’s Peace at CREW program for Alzheimer patients and their caregivers.

Now – in its July issue – Gulfshore Life Magazine has published an article entitled Here & Now: Heroes without Headlines highlighting some of those winners, and George is featured in the article and on their website. So pick up a copy and read all about him and this amazing program he designed.

George Luther Gulfshore Life
George Luther photo by Gulfshore Life Magazine

Congratulations again, George! Thanks for all you do for CREW.

Flint Pen Strand

Cypress trees in Flint Pen StrandFlint Pen Strand and Southern Critical CREW are the Lee County portions of the CREW project, located north of Bonita Beach Road (east of I-75) and south of Corkscrew Road.

This portion of CREW currently has no officially marked trails and no recreation facilities, except for a hunter check station located at Poor Man’s Pass. The South Florida Water Management District is still working on restoration of sheet flow and exotic species control and removal here. Recreation plans are forthcoming, and include hiking trails, horseback riding, and campsites. Currently, hunting is allowed in part of Flint Pen Strand under the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s regulations for the CREW WEA (Wildlife & Environmental Area).

The whole CREW project map
The whole CREW project map

As the restoration process progresses, we will keep you  posted on recreation plans s they become available…

CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trail

Physical Address: 1295 Shady Hollow Boulevard, Naples, FL 34120

Hours: One hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset

Trails/Facilities: Free – donations accepted, Open to public

Trail Information

The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail officially opened in July 2011. The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail offers 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, including a 1500-ft. boardwalk with wheelchair accessibility. A 1/4-mile crushed shell path leads to a 1500-ft. boardwalk, then the trails become ground level, sandy/grassy, relatively flat berms with swamp on both sides. The trails are actually old tram roads used when the area was logged many years ago. Biking can be a challenge on the grassy/sandy trails, but quite rewarding. The maple-cypress swamp is home to alligators, otters, Florida panthers, bobcats, white-tailed deer and more. There is one portable toilet at the beginning of the boardwalk and several benches along the trail within the first 1.5 miles. Beyond that there are no structures.

Birders will delight in the abundance of songbirds that frequent the cypress trees along the boardwalk, as well as the many raptors and wading birds found along the trails. Barred owls are common and swallow-tailed kites frequent the area in summer.

Trail Map


  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Nature study/photography
  • Geocaching
  • Birding
  • Running

The walking of dogs along this trail is not recommended.


 From Fort Myers/Naples: From I-75, take exit 111 and turn east (away from Naples) on Immokalee Road (CR 846). Travel 11.4 miles and turn left onto Shady Hollow Blvd. (One mile past the Oil Well Rd stoplight – Shady Hollow is where Immokalee Rd goes from 4-lane to 2-lane). Go to the end of Shady Hollow (approx 2.4 miles). Parking lot is on the right.

From Immokalee: Travel west (toward Naples) on CR 846 (Immokalee Road) for approx. 16.5 miles. Turn right on Shady Hollow Blvd. Travel 2.4 miles north to parking area/gate.

Google Map to Bird Rookery Swamp Trails:

Go back to the Visit CREW page.

What you need to know about the Purple Trail

Click for a PDF copy of this map
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