Friends board member Debbie Jordan has been out and about checking on the abundant bird life. She sends this report, including an update on Suwannee the Swallow-tailed Kite.
I hope you’ve been able to be outdoors enjoying the spring bird life -- there are so many babies this year! From cardinals to chickadees to woodpeckers, it’s been quite a noisy show with parents and begging youngsters at the feeders each day. Our skies have been graced with our favorite soaring birds, swallow-tailed kites, who are now visiting us during their breeding season. Through National Audubon magazine or our Friends News Brief, you might have heard about the Refuge’s “famous” kite named Suwannee, who was captured and outfitted with a GPS-GSM transmitter last summer. In August/September, young Suwannee made the incredible 5,000-mile journey from the Refuge to Mato Grosso, Brazil where he over-wintered. During his journey and while in Brazil, each time he came within range of a cell phone tower, data was transmitted about Suwannee’s location. In March, we were thrilled and amazed to learn that, after taking a slightly different route, he made the two-month journey all the way back to Florida!
Checks to support Suwannee's tracking should be made to Friends of Refuges, and
Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges
P.O. Box 532
Cedar Key, FL 32625
Please note you are supporting Swallow-tailed Kite research.
T-shirt Anyone? We are thinking of offering online purchase of kite t-shirts to support this effort. Please let me know if you’d like to order a shirt. Price will be $25 including mailing costs. We have Men's (S-2XL) and Women's sizes (S-XL) firstname.lastname@example.org
All board initiatives were discussed with particular attention to starting butterfly surveys, considering linking some trails to create a walk that highlights several contrasting eco-zones of the refuge, and planning the next phase of the Vista project.
The June meeting was scheduled to again be virtual. Friends is adjusting and adapting to the world as it is today. The mission hasn't changed, just the meeting mode.
Dr. Ken Sassaman, the Hyatt and Cici Brown Professor of Florida Archaeology at the University of Florida, is working with the Cedar Keys NWR on a project at Atsena Otie. In the current issue of Florida Historical Society Archaeological Institute's magazine, he describes the project's ultimate goal to create a virtual reality platform for exploring the experience and expectation of climate events. In particular, he and a team he has assembled will investigate the 1896 storm that destroyed most of the buildings on the island. The story says the project will use archival, geospatial, archaeological, and oral historical data in pursuit of insights that might help current community leaders plan for future climate events. Read the full story here.
On Monday, May 11, the five new Board members met on ZOOM with several current members for a short orientation. The discussion included:
It has been reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering expanding hunting of bears, bobcats, mountain lions and many other animals on National Wildlife Refuges across the U.S.
Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys Refuges checked with Refuge Manager Andrew Gude to learn if such a change is likely to affect hunting on our Refuges. We learned that it is not.
Hunting is a refuge-by-refuge decision. It is not easy for a refuge to expand hunting because it is dependent on local factors, and because significant policy bars must be met . . . usually at least a year in advance of any change.
Over the past year, all refuges, including Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys, completed SHOT (Service Hunt/Fish Opportunity Tool) reports, in accordance with a directive from former Secretary of Interior Zinke. One goal was to increase alignment with state hunting regulations to make things easier for hunters and anglers. Our regulations and the State of Florida’s already are in alignment. Another goal was to see what hunting and fishing opportunities could be expanded.
It turns out that Lower Suwannee NWR offers more hunting opportunities than any refuge in the Lower 48, with ten different public hunts and a few special hunts. Given this information and all the other data gathered for the SHOT report, our refuge managers do not envision allowing any more species to be taken.
Quoting our Refuge manager Andrew, "At the Lower Suwannee NWR, there will be no hunting bobcats or alligators, not even frog gigging. Our Refuge hunting will continue to be just deer, hogs, turkey, ducks, and small game . . . and hogs, hogs, and more hogs. Shoot all the damn hogs you would like, during the season, of course."