Monday, February 27, 2012

FL Hunter Safety is a lifetime certification.

 Photo credit: NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife 2007
Last weekend I taught Hunter Safety class for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and I realized something that blew me away!  When someone receives their Florida Hunter Safety certification, there is no renewal or retesting - ever.  Florida is not unique to this rule.  So everyone, including the 11 year old I passed will be potentially hunting in the woods, FIFTY years from now, with the same certification and approval I gave to him back in 2012.  That's kind of scary.


I worry when every five or so years and I have to get my driver's license renewed, that I'll l still be able to remember the rules and my eyes will work like their supposed to!  Here we are giving an average citizen who is able to pass a fifty question test, and shoot a gun down range, permission to do so for the rest of their lives!  That is a lot of responsibility.


Is that student still going to remember when Mr. Gus taught them?  I doubt it.  Will they remember to be safe, ethical and responsible hunters?  I hope so, but there are no guarantees.  Note to fellow instructors - take your job seriously, knowing you MAY be the only one to instruct this person for the rest of their lives.  Have you adequately driven in the points they need to know and remember?  Note to parents - folks, please reinforce safety and wildlife conservation with your children.  Someone's life WILL DEPEND ON IT.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A disturbing article about declining Moose population in MN.

Photo courtesy of MN DNR
Decline in Moose Population Could End Hunt in Minnesota
    
by Sarah Smith Barnum
February 24, 2012


The crashing moose population in Minnesota has DNR officials considering whether or not to hold a hunting season next year. They will make their decision over the next few weeks.


The population dropped from 8,840 in 2006 to 4,230 this winter. Biologists said that while hunting pressure and wolf predation were contributing factors, they were not the main cause.  DNR researcher Mark Lenarz told the Star Tribune that there are multiple factors affecting the mortality of Minnesota’s moose population, and it seems that climate change could play the largest role.  Lenarz believes that the immune systems of the moose are impaired over time due to the warmer weather, which leaves them vulnerable to illness and parasites.


"If we stopped hunting tomorrow, it wouldn't stop the decline in the population," read the whole article

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Iguanas threatening butterfly population in the Florida Keys

Photo Credit: Univ. of FL
Iguana were first reported in Miami, Florida in 1964. Not long after they were spotted in the Keys. In the '80s and '90s, iguanas became popular pets, but many people couldn't deal with those that grew bigger than their family dog. Now they are common in waterfront subdivisions in Broward and Palm Beach counties.


In today's Washington Post, was an article by the Associated PressIguanas hunted in Bahia Honda, suspected in disappearance of Miami blue butterfly population.


"For more than a year, Bahia Honda State Park biologist Jim Duquesnel traversed the nature sanctuary with two hopes. He wanted to see a Miami blue butterfly and rid the Florida Keys outpost of as many iguanas as he could.


The reason: The Central American invader may be driving the Miami blue into extinction by eating the leaves where it lays its eggs — a bit of butterfly caviar in every bite.


No confirmed Miami blues have been seen on Bahia Honda since July 2010, and with each passing day it becomes less likely any exist there. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last August issued an emergency listing of the Miami blue as an endangered species and three similar butterflies — cassius blue, ceranus blue and nickerbean blue — as threatened."  More of the article.


As stewards of the outdoors, we all need to be concerned when ever a new species of plant or animal is introduced to the environment.  It can cause devastating effects.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teaching teachers how to navigate.

Yesterday I had the best opportunity to teach a group of elementary education students at the University of Central Florida.  In three hours, they were taught the history of GPS navigation, the "ins and outs" of the sport of geocaching, and had an opportunity to place a cache and hide a cache.  If you're unfamiliar with sport of Geocaching, this link will tell you all about it, but in short it is high-tech treasure hunting.


A few of the important things mentioned included, that children for the most part are not learning skills in any type of navigation these days, at home or in the classroom.  Putting a GPS receiver in their hands and having them get to know how to use it is the easy part.  Most kids nowadays feel comfortable with electronics and holding an instrument and manipulating the buttons.  Some of the reasons geocaching in the classroom is a special  event, is that it gets them outdoors, they get to explore with some autonomy and most of all they get to find a "treasure".  It doesn't really matter that the treasure is science, social studies or match related, they still enjoy it!


I admire teachers who are using this skill, and going the extra effort with our children to help them learn with innovative methods.  I applaud UCF by including this topic with their education students!


The space below is for including some of the good ideas the students have in implementing GPS into K-6 curriculum.  Please check back to see their ideas!