We’ll be visiting the Tallahassee Museum every few weeks to see how their four red wolf pups are growing. If you missed it, we had previously visited the Museum when their mother was pregnant with them. We also took a look at the Museum’s role within the overall effort to restore this native predator to the American southeast. We also visited Saint Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, a red wolf island propagation site within the system.
Yesterday, the Tallahassee Museum reopened its red wolf exhibit. Their four new pups are two months old, and they’re still kind of shy. But, if you’re patient, you may get a look at one of them. Last Friday, I took a camera down to get the shots in the video above. After two-and-a-half hours, people stopped coming and little heads topped up from the wolf den. Thirty minutes after that, perhaps they felt better about my presence; they came out and played with their dad for a few minutes (The mom came out for a total of ten seconds during my time there). Continue reading →
The following video on the red wolves of Saint Vincent Island premiered at our screening of Red Wolf Revival at the Tallahassee Museum last Saturday. Next Thursday, April 27, at 8 pm ETReel South: Red Wolf Revival will air on WFSU-TV. This award winning documentary looks at the wild population of red wolves, which lives in North Carolina.
As in that previous segment, original music was composed for this video by Tracy Horenbein. Thanks to Tracy, and to Velma Frye and Becky Reardon for allowing us to use their song, Saint Vincent Island.
Looking at it on a map, you can see how Saint Vincent Island is different than its neighbors. Think of Cape San Blas, St. George Island, and Dog Island as its siblings, all four birthed by the Apalachicola River. The others are skinny, while Saint Vincent, the oldest sibling, is, to put it nicely, thick. It’s not typical of barrier islands in Florida. However, this size makes it an ideal host for endangered red wolves. Continue reading →
When Local Routes returns next Thursday (February 2 at 8 pm ET), we hike to the most remote spot in the viewing area- the Bradwell Bay Wilderness. We’re doing this with Remote Footprints, a passion project of Rebecca and Ryan Means, and their daughter Skyla. In their day jobs, Rebecca and Ryan are biologists for the Coastal Plains Institute. Today, we visited with the CPI and its partners as they released striped newts into the Munson Sandhills.
Rob Diaz de VillegasWFSU-TV
For the first time in twenty years, researchers observed striped newt larvae in the Apalachicola National Forest. It hadn’t been seen in the forest, which was once a stronghold for the species, since the late 1990s. The Coastal Plains Institute had spent six years releasing newts into the forest, hoping to see reproduction in the wild. A few months after their sixth release in January 2016, which we filmed, they dip netted a larval newt that seems to have been bred in the wild. More followed. Continue reading →
The striped newt is a bridge between the longleaf pine ecosystem and the many local water bodies that connect to our aquifer. If you want to know more about other longleaf species like red cockaded woodpeckers (one of whose cavity is taken over by another species in the video below) or gopher tortoises (in whose burrows striped newts may shelter during fires), you might enjoy our recent Roaming the Red Hills series. The location of our gopher tortoise video is Birdsong Nature Center, where the stars of our striped newt adventure will be leading the first ever Ephemeral Wetlands Extravaganza this Saturday, May 21 (EDIT: This is event is being rescheduled due to storms forecasted for Saturday morning. Keep an eye on the Birdsong calendar or Facebook page for more information) .
Like in Roaming the Red Hills, original music was composed for this video by local musicians. Hot Tamale has contributed music to EcoAdventures in the past. In one of the first ever posts on this blog, Hot Tamale’s Craig Reeder wrote about their song Crystal Gulf Waters, which was inspired by the 2010 BP Oil Spill. The segment below aired on the May 19 episode of Local Routes.
Rob Diaz de VillegasWFSU-TV
Ryan and Rebecca Means put the future of the striped newt species (in the Apalachicola National Forest, anyway) in the hands of young children. They didn’t intend it to be symbolic; it just seemed like it would make for nice video. And it was. The images do, however, reflect a central mission of the Means’s work with the Coastal Plains Institute: to foster a love of our local ecosystems in the young, with the hope of creating a new generation of stewards. Continue reading →
As we await might be the last whooping crane class to winter in the St. Marks Refuge, we look back at a visit we took to the whooping crane site with Brooke Pennypacker, a dedicated crane handler with Operation Migration. We also look at the future of ultralight guided whooping crane migration, which Operation Migration is defending as they meet with partner organizations.
UPDATE – 1/25/16
This year’s ultralight guided whooping migration will be the last. Operation Migration will remain involved in the efforts to create a self-sustaining whooping crane population. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has explained the rationale behind the decision (you can read more on that below), while Operation Migration’s Brooke Pennypacker has written this touching post-decision entry to the OM field blog. From our interview with Brooke and in following Operation Migration over the last few years, I can see how invested he and the other OM staff are when it comes to whooping cranes. They have sacrificed a lot to raise, train and guide flock after flock of cranes, and I can’t imagine that they won’t continue to do so.
This year’s St. Marks flyover, likely to be this week, will be the last. A number of cranes have continued to migrate back to the Refuge after their initial migration, and under the new management regime, the hope is that they will be the ones to guide captive-raised chicks south for the first time. It will be years before the new practices can be judged to be successful, and even then, as in the case of ultralight guided migration, the results may not conclusively predict the long term success of the population. All I can with certainty at this point is that I know there will be dedicated people working their hardest to make it work.
Rob Diaz de VillegasWFSU-TV
When I met Brooke Pennypacker, he brought with him an example of the many challenges faced by a whooping crane handler. The staff at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge visitor center told us that Brooke was busy handling an issue in the crane pen, and that he’d be late. About 30 minutes later, he pulled up in an Operation Migration pickup truck. In the bed was a bundle of plastic fencing and white cloth from which an alligator tail protruded. Brooke had recently noticed the cranes move from their usual roosting spot, next to an oyster bar, to a spot on the other end of the pen. They were acting spooked. After spotting the young gator, he borrowed a seine net from Jack Rudloe at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, caught it, and wrapped it in his whooping crane feeding costume. All in a day’s job. Continue reading →