Volunteer naturalist Dick Brewer donates a lot of time to FWC and the CREW Trust collecting data. From his animal counts on hikes to assisting with Swallow-tailed kite nest monitoring, Dick plays a valuable role as a citizen scientist. This week he spent a long morning hiking the Cypress Dome Trails and Caracara Prairie Preserve. The area is getting quite wet with the week of rain and the marshes are filling up, attracting a lot of wading birds. Check out his observations below from his hike – and this amazing photo he snapped of a Swallow-tailed kite flying back to its nest with a tree frog as a snack.
I received a text yesterday from a neighbor who had a photo from another neighbor of a possible panther in our neighborhood.
Now, I’ve known since I moved here that my neighborhood, which borders on the CREW Project, had possible panther activity. It’s the reason I purchased a game camera at last year’s silent eco-auction, and I take note of panther sightings posted on our neighborhood Facebook page Seeing a Florida panther in the wild is on my wildlife bucket list, so I would much rather prefer to see one a the CREW Marsh Trails than in my backyard but – any panther sighting would make my heart race with sheer joy.
Why? Besides the fact that panthers are one of our two big cat species, they are also endangered – and seeing them and reporting them is an important part of citizen science.
Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi) are an Endangered Species.
Counting panthers is difficult because they are solitary, elusive and wide-ranging animals rarely observed in the wild. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) panther biologists estimate there are 120-230 adults and yearlings in Florida.
Reporting your observations can help FWC biologists address panther conservation needs by identifying the areas used by these large cats.
I learned last year during a hike that many people don’t know that, if you see a panther, you should report it online to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. So, if you do see a panther – first up, congratulations, and second, here are the steps to report this rare sighting.
Snap a photo if you can of either the panther or its tracks.
Using Google maps or your compass on your phone, take note of the latitude and longitude of the the sighting. You can drop a pin on your location on the Google Maps app to mark where you saw the panther and check that pin later for your GPS coordinates.
Join The Unusual Suspects – our local geocaching heroes—Milla Voellinger, Pete Corradino and others for a great day of geocaching at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails. They will give introductory lessons to newbies, send experienced cachers out with new cachers, or simply get you started and send you out on your own if you’d like. Whatever your pleasure, these geocaching heroes can help you learn to love this high-tech treasure hunting the woods.
It’s been a long, hot summer, but the cool fronts are moving through and the rains are getting scarce, and that means it’s time for us to crank up our regular Guided Walks at the CREW Trails. Starting in November – and running through April – regular guided walks will be held at the CREW Marsh Trails (led by Dr. David Cooper) and at Bird Rookery Swamp (led by George Luther, Bob Melin, Chrissy Podos, and Jack Shine). This year, we’re adding a third “regular” walk at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails (led by Dick Brewer). Guided walks include some history of CREW and interpretation of the natural world found at each site.
Each trail is unique and each walk leader has his/her own special talents and stories to share. Come on out for one or all three. These CREW walks are free, but pre-registration is highly recommended since they often fill up, and registered participants get first dibs on space.
Bird Rookery Swamp Trail Walks with George Luther & Bob Melin Wednesdays (9 – 11:30 AM) – November through April
1st Sundays (1:30 – 4 PM) – November through April
4th Saturdays (9 – 11:30 AM) – November through August with Chrissy Podos 1st and 4th Thursdays (9 – 11:30 AM) – February and March with Jack Shine 2nd and 3rd Thursdays (9 – 11:30 AM) – February and March
This morning (6/25/2014) a one-year old, uncollared, female Florida panther was hit and killed by a vehicle on Corkscrew Road just north of the CREW Cypress Dome Trails. Florida Fish and Wildlife officials have the panther and will be sending it to Gainesville for a necropsy. According to FWC, this is the 17th panther death in 2014, the 12th from vehicle collision.
CREW is a wildlife corridor and provides essential habitat for panthers, bears and other wildlife. Unfortunately, the proximity of these protected lands next to Corkscrew Road and the all-too-often speeding traffic along it means wildlife deaths are inevitable. The CREW Trust encourages everyone who travels Corkscrew Road (CR 850) to observe the panther speed limits (55 mph in daylight, 45 mph at night) and to be extra-observant for all wildlife. If you don’t travel that road, please remind your friends and neighbors who do to watch for wildlife and drive the speed limits.
If you see a dead or injured panther on the road, report it immediately to FWC Wildlife Alert at 888-404-3922.
Eagle Scout candidate, Kevin Link, completed an outstanding project at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails last week. Here, he shares some of the process via video. Thanks to Kevin and all of his team for an extraordinary project to help beautify and provide shade and seating at the Cypress Dome Trailhead and parking area and to help educate people about native plants and landscaping.
Brian Beckner, owner of Native Bird Boxes, has generously donated four new hand-crafted bluebird boxes to the CREW project and is installing them today at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails with the assistance of FWC biologist Kathleen Smith and CREW Trust Executive Director Brenda Brooks. These boxes will enhance habitat and encourage bluebird nesting on CREW properties. If you’re hiking at the Cypress Dome Trails, keep your eyes open for bluebirds in the coming seasons and report any activity you see to us here or via email to email@example.com.