SCALLOP SEASON Scallop season has officially begun in state waters from the Fenholloway River in the south to the Suwannee River in the north. For more information on scallop season dates in other state waters and bag limits, go here.
HOG HUNTING The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is encouraging hunters to contemplate wild hog hunting this summer by opening up their 26 wildlife management areas. On lands beyond these wildlife areas, wild hogs can be hunted year-round with landowner permission. Information may be found here.
BURMESE PYTHON CHALLENGE The annual Burmese Python Challenge will run from July 9th to 18th. The ten-day challenge invites hunters to capture and remove the invasive python from the Everglades and encourages participation by offering prizes. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had a record year for python removal in 2020 with a 35 percent increase from 2019. About 13,000 pythons have been euthanized since 2000.
BLUE CALAMINTHA BEE Researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History recently discovered the rare blue calamintha bee in the Ocala National Forest. The bee, first identified in 2011, primarily lives along the Lake Wales Ridge, a 150-mile-long scrub habitat that runs down the center of the State. A ground nester, it feeds on the endangered Ashe’s calamint and false rosemary. The bee gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as people spent more time outside and became excited about possible sightings of the special bee.
MANATEES According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in the first four months of 2021, manatee deaths reached 723, surpassing the 637 deaths reported in all of 2020 and the 607 reported in 2019. The culprit: starvation. Seagrass, the mammal’s primary food source, has been dying off due to power plant accidents, urban pollution, leaky septic tanks and water temperature rises. Experts fear the death rate could reach thousands by year’s end.
SNEAKY SPIDER An elusive tarantula-like spider found in the Florida Everglades has been given a name: Pine Rockland Trapdoor Spider. This arachnid is so rare it has only been seen a few times since it was first identified in the 1920’s. They are only found in the pine rockland habitat of Southern Florida. Its home is being destroyed by human activity and destruction of the pines.