Teaching children a lifelong hobby, instilling an appreciation for our marine environment and providing a fun, family outing are the objectives for the Daytona Beach Kids’ Fishing Clinic.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Halifax Sport Fishing Club, the Sport Fish Resto-ration Program and Fish Florida present a free Kids’ Fishing Clinic for children ages 6-13 on Saturday, March 27. Registration is 9 a.m. - noon. The clinic will be at the Sunglow Fishing Pier.
This free event will enable young people to learn the basics of environmental stewardship, fishing ethics, angling skills and safety. In addition, environmental displays will provide participants with a unique chance to experience Florida’s marine life firsthand.
Kids’ Fishing Clinics strive toward several goals, but the main objective is to create responsible marine resource stewards by teaching children about the vulnerability of Florida’s marine ecosystems. Also, the clinics aspire to teach fundamental saltwater fishing skills and provide participants with a positive fishing experience.
Organizers are supplying fishing equipment and bait for children to use during the clinic but encourage those who own fishing tackle to bring it. They will also give a limited number of rods and reels to participants upon comple-tion of the clinic.
If conditions allow, participants will have the opportunity to practice their new skills and fish from the pier. This event is a photo catch-and-release activity. An adult must accompany all participants.
Individuals or companies interested in helping sponsor this event or volunteering at the clinic should contact Andy White with the Halifax Sport Fishing Club at 386-299-0964 or Gus Cancro with the FWC at 850-488-6058.
FLORIDA BLACK BEAR FESTIVAL
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is once again a proud partner in the Umatilla Black Bear Festival, an event dedicated to helping people understand and live in harmony with the fascinating Flor-ida black bear.
The family-oriented festival, now in its 11th year, is scheduled for Saturday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cadwell Park in Umatilla. It’s free and is a great way for families to spend a few hours together doing something fun and educational at the same time.
New this year is a contest to design a practical, bear-resistant garbage container. The top three winners will each get $100 gift cards to Lowe’s and be recognized on the FWC’s Web site.
FWC biologists will give informative and entertaining programs about black bears and living in bear country. At 10:30 a.m., wildlife biologist Tom Shupe will discuss interactions between bears and people and how to ensure a positive and safe experience. At 12:30 p.m., wildlife biologist Andrea Boliek will give an exciting presentation about “the bear facts.” Learn about different species of bear, and myth-versus-fact about the black bear.
And finally, at 2 p.m., join the FWC’s bear management coordinator, David Telesco, for a talk about bear behavior and the science and techniques used to discover the secrets of a bear’s life.
Meanwhile, deep in the Ocala National Forest, FWC bear research biologists Walter McCown and Brian Scheick will lead field-trip participants through natural bear habitat and explain a bit of bruin natural history. Field trips begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be repeated every hour. The bus for the last field trip leaves the festival grounds at 1:30 p.m.
Back at the festival grounds, the FWC is proud to introduce a new activity for children of all ages called “Come Be a Bear!” This is an interactive journey through the seasons that helps children experience how a black bear really lives in the wild. See what a bear likes to eat, how it prepares for the winter and what its den is like.
FWC biologists will be on hand to answer all your bear-related questions. In addition, they’ll present a buffet of bear cuisine – both the healthy, natural kind and the problem-causing kind only humans can provide. Learn the difference and be surprised at some of the things bears will eat and how biologists know.
The FWC will also display examples of bear-resistant garbage cans, an electric fence, a wildlife feeder and a trap used to capture bears.
There will be plenty of literature about bears and other wildlife, and the very popular FWC traveling exhibit trailer will be on hand with its wildlife diorama display.
“Our goal is for festival-goers to learn everything they always wanted to know about the Florida black bear, and have fun while they learn,” said Jessica Basham, the FWC’s bear festival coordinator.
Central Florida boasts the highest density of bears in the state and can truly be called bear country. But that dis-tinction brings with it the responsibility to learn how to live with bears with minimal conflict.
“Helping people understand bear behavior has always been one of the FWC’s primary goals for the festival,” Basham said. “If people who live in bear country understand what makes bears tick, they will know what they can do to discourage bears from causing problems in their homes and communities.”
The festival is presented by Defenders of Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Umatilla, the FWC and the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the 11th annual Umatilla Black Bear Festival and de-tails about the bear-resistant garbage can contest, call 352-669-3511 or visit http://umatillachamber.org/BlackBearFest/.
BREVARD, VOLUSIA BOATERS: MANATEES LEAVING WARM-WATER REFUGES IN LARGE NUMBERS
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters in Brevard and Volusia counties to be on the lookout for manatees moving from warm-water refuges into feeding areas.
Manatees have started migrating northward from South Florida in the Intracoastal Waterway. Large numbers will be traveling through Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Brevard counties during their spring migra-tion.
At least 1,000 manatees were counted during aerial surveys of Brevard County this winter, with the highest num-bers at the Florida Power and Light power plant at Port St. John and smaller aggregations in canals off the southern Banana River and the Sebastian River.
As the weather warms, large numbers of manatees are traveling to seagrass beds and other near-shore areas throughout the county’s waterways, especially in the northern Indian River and the Banana River. Many migrants from South Florida will also arrive in Brevard over the coming weeks, further increasing the local manatee popula-tion.
Boaters should slow down and strictly obey posted speed restrictions in manatee protection zones.
“The greatest danger of boat strikes to manatees occurs when high concentrations of these mammals move out of warm-water refuges and head toward feeding areas. Boaters should use extreme care as this pattern develops,” said Capt. Steve Wayne, FWC law enforcement supervisor for Brevard, Osceola and Indian River counties.
All marine law enforcement task force member agencies will increase patrols and strictly enforce manatee-protection-zone speed limits to aid the animals during this period when they are most vulnerable to vessel strikes.
“To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should wear polarized sunglasses to help them spot the creatures in the water, and watch for the large, tell-tale circular slicks on the surface of the water, which are called manatee foot-prints, and indicate the presence of manatees,” said Capt Chris Roszkowiak, FWC law enforcement supervisor for Volusia, Orange and Seminole counties.
If you would like more information on Florida’s manatees, including manatee protection zone information for each county, visit MyFWC.com/Manatee or call the FWC’s regional office in Ocala at 352-732-1225.
To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).