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One wild week

By CRAIG PITTMAN
Published June 11, 2007


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Managing manatees, sparing gopher tortoises, letting homeowners wrestle small alligators - it all comes before the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission this week. The commission, which consists of seven members appointed by the governor, is slated to meet for two days in Melbourne, but the most controversial topics are all loaded onto Wednesday's agenda.

GOPHER TORTOISES: Since 1991, the state has allowed developers to pay for the option of burying gopher tortoises alive and paving over their habitat instead of relocating them. State records show that more than 92, 000 have been killed that way. As their numbers decrease, the commission is considering ending the practice. Estimated statewide population: somewhere between 300, 000 and 1-million.

MANATEES: Last year, at the request of recreational anglers and boaters, the commission downgraded manatees from "endangered" to merely "threatened." The group will discuss a management plan, including how to decrease deaths from speedboat accidents and other factors, setting the stage for a final vote in September.

ALLIGATORS: The state has long relied on professional trappers to deal with alligators in the suburbs. A proposal before the commission would allow homeowners who find a gator less than 4 feet long in their yards to capture and kill it themselves. Estimated statewide population: more than 1-million.

Read the full report

For the full Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting agenda, with links to reports on each issue: http://myfwc.com/commission/2007/Jun07/index.html. The meeting is open to the public, 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Radisson Suite Hotel Oceanfront, 3101 N Highway AIA, Melbourne. (321) 773-9260.

[Last modified June 10, 2007, 23:57:18]


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