Yes, FWC Kills Bears!

Recently an activist stated that FWC does not kill bears.  How bazaar coming from a bear activist who has been involved in stopping the bear hunts.   Anyone can request these records from FWC.

To prove my point about FWC killing bears, I am including some images of records sent to me from FWC of the bears that they have killed during 1/11/15 to 4/11/16. These records do not come color-coded. I did that so I could reference certain things more easily.

bear deaths 2bear deaths 3bear deaths 4bear deaths 1

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Yes, FWC Kills Bears!

Spanky, the Death of a Neighborhood Bear – Letter to FWC

This letter was shared and was given permission to reprint.

tavaresbear1

An Open Letter to FWC Executive Director Wiley, Chairman Yablonski, and Commissioners
On October 24th, 2016, a mature, male black bear was illegally shot and killed in my subdivision in Tavares, Lake County. To you, this event may mean nothing more than an additional task for your Law Enforcement Division. To me, and to many of my neighbors, this event was a vicious, senseless crime, and a heartbreaking metaphor for the larger plight of Florida’s wildlife. I would like you to understand what the death of this bear means to us, and to recognize the broader implications of what has just happened here.
I have an intensely personal stake in this case. I grew up in the city of Detroit, Michigan – not exactly the best place for wildlife viewing. In 2006, I was fortunate enough to be able to build my current home, which overlooks one of the last undeveloped parcels of land within the city limits of Tavares. For the last ten years, my family and I have experienced the company of owls, ospreys, a bobcat, coyotes, and even a diamondback rattlesnake. But, since 2009, the animal we most enjoyed was “Spanky,” the bear, whose pathway between “wilderness” and “civilization” took him past our back door.
You probably think it is inappropriate, even silly, for ordinary people like us to give wild animals names. Perhaps we should have given him an impersonal, scientific designation, like B2009. But, to us, the bear was not just an entry in a database or a red dot on a map: he was an individual, a neighbor, virtually a member of our extended family. The person who intentionally took him from us has stolen one of the most cherished parts of our lives – a living being who connected us to wild Florida in a way that nothing else can, adding a magical quality to a daily routine otherwise dominated by long hours of work. When we found ourselves asking why we were working so hard – what we were working for – this solitary bear helped provide a better answer than anything our realtor told us in 2006.
As you may have seen from the television interviews with some of my neighbors, our bear had never presented a threat to our safety. We had many “up close and personal” encounters with Spanky over the years, and not once did he act aggressively. His worst offense was to break into our screened porch – lured in by the irresistible aromas of a recent fish-frying session – but even then we simply shooed him out and realized that we were more responsible for the problem than he was. We learned how to be “bear wise,” and thus for seven years we and Spanky were able to coexist quite happily. For the small price of simple changes in behavior, we reaped the great benefit of having a beautiful animal in our lives.
Your staff often refer to wild animals like Florida black bears as “renewable natural resources.” Spanky was not a “resource.” He was a unique character, living the best life he could in the diminished habitat we humans had left for him, and doing it with a gentle dignity that deserved, and received, our respect. Nor was he “renewable.” He is gone. He will not be – can not be – replaced. We do not mean this in a purely sentimental sense, for the little pocket of habitat that served as his home is far too isolated to ever again receive a bear, unless by some miracle. And the sad truth is that there is scant time for even a miracle to occur, as much of the undeveloped land in question will surely be converted into habitat for humans within the next few years. When we protest, we are told that we can not stand in the way of “progress,” and left to wonder what amount of impact fees can ever compensate a community for the loss of its wild heart.
One might have hoped, at least, that Florida’s “Wildlife Conservation” Commission would share our concerns about the crushing of many wild hearts across the state, yet your response to the killing of our bear was chilling. Mr. Workman – echoing a long line of similar statements in bear-related press releases – told the Leesburg Daily Commercial that your agency “diligently works to limit the challenges presented by our state’s large black bear population, which has been scientifically estimated to be over 4,000 bears.” In these circumstances, it is hard to imagine a more intellectually perverse and morally reprehensible comment.
Your representation of Florida’s black bear situation is exactly backwards. The bear population that you continually refer to as “large and growing,” or “robust and resilient,” is in fact only 0.02% of the human population, a massive disparity perfectly captured by the isolation of our bear, alone amid thousands of people. And his fate – deliberately killed by a human of defective character – poses the question that should be of central concern to any conservation agency worthy of the name; to wit, how to limit the challenges presented to our small black bear population by a vastly larger and infinitely more destructive human population?
It seems to me that there are two very obvious reasons for your blatant and repeated reversal of the proper perspective. First, Florida is “open for business” and your constitutional independence will no more impede the commercial juggernaut rampaging across our state than our city’s zoning board. Beyond this, though, lies a transparent attempt to convince the public, through a steady “drip, drip, drip” of agency messaging, that the state’s bear population is “too large” and must therefore be “managed” by hunting. This being the case, why should any citizen of Florida reporting a wildlife crime expect a satisfactory resolution, when the very agency in charge of the investigation seeks to provide hunters with an “opportunity” to kill the same animals, just under more “regulated” conditions?
In order to demonstrate your competence to protect our wildlife from those who have no more respect for your regulations than they do for God’s creatures, you must first acknowledge the consequences of your own actions. Our bear was killed on the one-year anniversary of last year’s bear hunt. This is surely no coincidence. The killer was clearly disgruntled about being denied a legal “opportunity” to kill this (or perhaps some other) bear, so he decided to flout your authority and have some illegal fun instead. (The “resource,” of course, was completely wasted, because no part of “it” was “harvested.” Maybe that, if nothing else, will command your attention.) Had you not decided to permit a bear hunt in 2015, this uniquely despicable motivation would never have arisen, and our bear would most likely still be with us, enriching our lives as he had for years before. Allowing hunting sent a message that bears were “fair game,” a message that continues to ring in certain ears long after the “season” ended. When you now attempt to outlaw the “taking” of bears you are, in effect, speaking out of both sides of your mouth, and one can only wonder how many other bears have died without media attention as a result of the signal you sent.
I do not, therefore, expect you to care about any sense of “justice” for our bear, even though almost all well-adjusted people believe that he deserves it. But I do imagine that you might wish to protect the credibility of your agency by proving that you are, in fact, capable of conducting a vigorous investigation of a repugnant wildlife crime. For if you can not apprehend and prosecute those who willfully violate your regulations, then your claim that hunting is “regulated” will crumble along with my shattered dream. And if you do not stand up for the remaining animals who are about to be swept away by the rising human tide – if you allow them to be shot in the back, just like Spanky – then the character of your agency will itself be “fair game” for all Floridians who shared a dream similar to mine.
Spanky was a “good ambassador” for his species, winning many friends in our community. The same can not be said for the human who took his life. As stakeholders in the conservation of Florida’s black bear, we must now rely on your agency to hold the killer accountable for his actions, and to keep us notified of your progress at all phases of the investigation. Having contributed to the climate that fomented this crime, you owe us no less. The debt you owe to Spanky, however, can never be repaid.
Sincerely,
Jacqueline Elfers Nicholson,
Tavares, FL

 

Spanky, the Death of a Neighborhood Bear – Letter to FWC

Orlando Sentinel helping spin lies about the black bears

 

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Nick Wiley did not disclose that he is the executive director of FWC in the recently published article he wrote to the Orlando Sentinel. As executive director he is clearly
biased and so that articlle should be read as tongue in cheek, or fingers crossed behind the back.

Regarding the number of bear calls in 2002 – The bears were still on the endangered list.
In 2015 – The bears were not and FWC was asking people to call if they even saw a bear!
I’d say they were working their spin to get people to agree to a hunt. Not that people’s opinion matter but it’s better to instill fear, such as Marion Hammer with the NRA just did by saying bears are terrorizing our neighborhoods! What a lie! And that’s all we get from such hunting biased organizations and people.

The count of 4,350 did not deduct the over 600 bears killed last year!!! How’s that for spinning the truth?

I’m sick of all the lies just to try to justify a hunt that should not take place to please the mere 1% of the hunting populace in the state.

The bears are wandering out of their areas because people are feeding them and the forest are being dozed down. The oaks trees are being replaced with long-leaf slash pine which offers no food. The saw palmetto berries are being raped by illegals who sell them to the pharmaceutical industry.  Wiley failed to emphasize the enormous problem there is with that! Omission of truth is lying!

Wiley mentioned the number of road kills. This in itself is controlling the numbers of bears along with the 129 that FWC killed last year and natural deaths. No need for a hunt.

We have “thousands of human-bear conflicts a year?” Seriously? A person seeing a bear in their yard is NOT a conflict! Keep it real. When you say these thing you know people are going to think there was interaction and that people were in danger! Shame on you!

Bears have increased all over the United States. Not just Florida. It’s not so much to do with FWC as it is with nature. And left to their own, nature will take care of the populations and control them.

For those reading this who do not know, “conservation” according to FWC includes hunting – killing. They do not “conserve.” They are mandated to provide hunting opportunities for hunters. That is their job!

The reason for Nick Wiley writing this article is to make the public trust the FWC in  making the decision for having another bear hunt. Pure and simple.

Unfortunately, The Orlando Sentinel did not allow people who are not subscribers to even comment on this article.  Guess they need the money.

If you want the truth about the bear hunts and the FWC, join a Facebook group devoted to them.

People owe it to our wildlife to be educated and fight for their lives.

Orlando Sentinel helping spin lies about the black bears

FWC – Kills Healthy Bears All The Time

FWC has had a “one and done” policy when it comes to nuisance bears.
This means that if they get a call from Joe Schmo that there is a bear in his
garbage, the FWC will come out and trap the bear and take it off and kill it.
Sometimes this includes mother bears with their cubs.

All of the incidents pictured below have two things in common. The people live in areas where bears are known to be and the people do not live “bear smart.”

Many people balk at having to buy bear proof trash cans. Other’s can’t afford them.
But there are programs to help people get them. A lot of money has been allocated
for these purposes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be happening.

The photos below show evidence of lack of responsibility of home owners and the
FWC taking the easy way out to solve the “nuisance.”

FWC – Kills Healthy Bears All The Time

FWC – Will Work For Funds

FWC isn’t calling for a hunt because there are too many bears.
The bears that are nuisances will continue to visit. The
ones deep in the woods, nobody sees except for hunters.
So why call for a hunt?
Obviously it is so the hunters can get their jollies off killing
those bears. And the nuisance bears will satisfy FWC killing lust when they
euthanize them.

Selling permits for hunters to kill the bears is another plus as
it brings money into the FWC. Hunters support FWC financially
and verbally. They are buddies.
Hunting has been on a decline so FWC has beefed up their
promotion of hunting to kids and women. They offer camps
and other events to introduce them and get them interested
in hunting, if they haven’t already done that by a hunter in the
family.

While part of FWC’s job is to provide hunting opportunities to hunters
and secure land for them to hunt on they are finding it hard to
keep their funds floating. They have many fund raising events
and have an extension called, “The Fish and Wildlife Foundation
of Florida.” This agency has FWC Nick Wiley on it’s board
along with ex-commission Richard Corbett who quit FWC when
the 2015 hunt debacle got too hot for him to handle.

The FWFF sells things to promote itself as well as hunting wildlife,
like hunting liscense plates. It also sells items to the nature loving
crowd, like binoculars and other equipment.

The depth of fund raising, grants, sales etc. I wouldn’t begin to
know for it seems that the FWC just morphs itself into other agencies
to promote itself. I can’t keep up with all of them.

Saying there are too many bears that there must be a hunt isn’t enough
in my book. Show us where the bears are starving, having genetic problems,
males are eating the cubs (that happens anyways.) That’s why cubs
need their mothers. But FWC allows for the killing of lactating females.
They want us to believe they care about the bears but nothing they do
proves it. They don’t care about cubs.

Smokey Jr., who got singed in a recent wildfire in Lake County caught the
attention of the public and the FWC had to do the right thing by it to make
the public believe that it cares. Yet they themselves kill cubs. This
is an outrage that this agency gets away with murder. Literally.

I find it funny that the FWC has hunters that go around promoting it and it’s practices in order to keep the court of public opinion finding favor on it.  Sadly for them, it’s not working.  They are hated more than ever and this will only grow as they continue to turn their blind eyes and deaf ears on those who are against the bear hunts.

FWC – Will Work For Funds

Wake Up Florida – FWC isn’t who they use to be!

It’s time for ALL citizens to take action to save the wildlife of Florida!

I hate to say it but most of Florida is asleep when it comes to what is going on in our state with regards to our wildlife. They don’t know about the corruption of the agency that we have always trusted to protect it and how they have become an elite hunt club.

The politics behind the FWC run through branches of the government from the Governor who is a hunter and seeks to have every inch of Florida developed to the FWC board of commissioners whom he hand picked, except for two. They are big land developers, ranchers, lawyers, road builders, political high rollers, and most hunt. One commissioner/rancher is even trying to have the Florida Panther de-listed so she can kill them off from her ranch.

Most people do not hunt. So why is this all so powerful agency spending our tax dollars to promote it? Don’t we have a say? Well, not as long as you remain silent you don’t. The FWC holds five meetings a year in various locations in the state. At these meetings, the public is invited to say something. The hunters have done this for many years. So now that we know it’s time that we showed up to these meetings and had our say.
It’s going to take a mighty roar to stop this out of control, biased and blood thirsty agency and the power behind it to stop.

THE BEAR HUNT

The recent bear hunt brought to light a how corrupt things have gotten with the FWC. Things just didn’t make sense about the bear hunt. Why would they insist on a hunt mid-way during a count of the bears that has cost thousands of dollars and many man hours? Why would they say it was for the safety of the citizens then retract and say it’s because there were too many bears? Why did make so many mistakes regarding the hunt?

The quotas they set were obviously off by how many bears were taken. Their claiming it would be hard to even kill a bear because they are so elusive was obviously not true. Their objective of killing 320 bears in a week was off by a landslide when 300+ were killed in two days. Their claims to be able to stop the hunt when the quota was reached was wrong. The Eastern Panhandle met it’s quota of 40 bears early in the day but the hunt for that area was not called off until 9:00 pm that night resulting in almost three times as many bears killed.  Their argument that they could trust the hunters to follow the rules was wrong. They killed lactating mothers, they baited, they killed cubs, and they killed bears after the hunt was called off as one video from a monitor showed there was no rigor when a bear was brought in the next day after the hunt was called.

Our bears did not have to be killed. The FWC did not have a count of how many bears there are. The nuisance bears in the neighborhoods there were killing when anyone called about them. And any others would not be killed
by hunters who would be hunting deep in the woods nowhere near these neighborhoods. Education regarding the bears was not forthcoming from FWC. The one and only festival to educate about the bears is held in an obscure place, the town of Umatilla. The problems bears were in Seminole County in the Lake Mary-Longwood area. FWC had not been trying to get the bear-proof trash cans implemented which had been proven to have a 95% success rate at reducing human-bear encounters.

The hunt was a blood bath for our bears. And many of us knew it would be. The FWC of course would not listen to us. They would not listen to biologists and scientists outside of their own. They would not listen to the public who voiced their opposition to the bear hunt. Seventy-five percent of calls and emails made to them were against the hunt. They would not listen to the Sierra Club, The HSUS, Speak Up Wekiva, South Florida Wetlands Association, Girls Gone Green, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Hero Kids, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Animal Welfare Institute,  Center for Biological Diversity, Compassion Works International, Environmental Action, Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary,
or Lobby for Animals, just to name a few.

Who did they listen to? They listened to Governor Rick Scott. They listened to Rep. Jason Brodeur and the other representatives that co-signed a letter that was sent to Nick Wiley, the executive direction of FWC that they
needed to do something. They cited the reason was because of “the latest incidents involving human and bear interaction.” They suggested education of the public regarding bear safety, bear-proof trash cans and a bear hunt.

The FWC was only too happy to oblige with the bear hunt since they had been sitting on it for years wanting to have one and with pressure from hunters to have one. They seem to feel obligated to make hunting opportunities for them.  Is this the real purpose for this agency? For years the hunters have been active in going to their meetings and making
friends with the commissioners in a grooming fashion to have them pander to their desires. How revolting to look back and see how this has played out. And we were none the wiser.

FWC AND THEIR TYPE OF “CONSERVATION”

They operated under a cloak of secrecy where the public had no idea of what they were really up to. They knew that the public was oblivious to what their true nature was and they took advantage of it. The all trusting
public who has always placed their trust in an agency that now even includes the word “conservation” in their name. The agency who has license plates that say things like “save wildlife”, carefully orchestrated a big hoax upon the public about how they were caring for wildlife when it was far from being true. The whole reason the FWC does any kind of
protection of wildlife is to build their numbers up so that they can provide hunters more hunting opportunities. And those license plates?  Well, the proceeds  don’t go to conserving wildlife.

I’m reminded of a  story that was ran in one newspaper where the reporter was interviewing a duck hunter who was very upset about the turbines in the Everglades killing ducks who flew into them. And the reporter asked but aren’t you going to kill them? And he said “yes.” Preserve it so you can kill it. Folks this in NOT what people have in mind when it comes to conservation.

Conserving our wildlife so that future generations can enjoy their wonderment is what we the people want. We the majority. We who pay the most (contrary to what hunters will tell you) to pay for conservation.
And now that we know what this elite hunt club called the Florida Fish & Wildlife “Conservation” Commission is up to, we are not going to keep quiet about it.

WILDLIFE’S LOSS OF FOOD SOURCES AND THE IMPACT

There seems to be a total disregard by the FWC about the lack of food sources for the bears and other wildlife. With timber harvesting, land development and picking of the saw palmetto berries, there just isn’t as much food as there use to be. How deceiving of the FWC to even say that there needed to be a bear cull because there is not enough food for them when they are the very ones in charge to make sure there is enough food for them. And the FWC can’t say they didn’t know about the  importance of the berries because their own website contains information about them and and how vitally important they are.

For at least thirty years the saw palmetto berries have been being picked on state land with daily permits being sold by the Florida Forest Service.
As the berries have become more prosperous to pick, the more the depletion of this food source has become.  It wasn’t until June of 2015 that a temporary moratorium was placed on the harvesting in those areas.
The berries become ripe in August to September, a time when bears have to pack on pounds to enter into their dens. Females must have this extra weight for their pregnancies to become viable. Bears lose as much as 25% of their weight during denning. Not only are these berries important to bears but over 100 other species depend on these plants and their berries.

Along with the lack of acorns from trees this helped to create a perfect storm for the bears to come out of the woods and into the neighborhoods to seek food. And homeowners added to the storm by having garbage, dog food, birdseed and dirty barbecue grills etc. ready for them. So with lack of bear safety education and tempting bears with their wares, a few people met with calamity. Bears are naturally shy and mean no harm unless they are provoked or are defending cubs. Since the attacks that happened, bears now do not have a chance if people call the FWC on them. It’s one strike and you’re dead. And FWC has encouraged people to call, call, call. And they do. Even if the bear is just walking trough their yard. Needless deaths of more bears. FWC has euthanized close to one hundred bears
in 2015 and there remains another month and half to add to the tally.

If you have just read this and your eyes have been opened, please join us in fighting this rogue agency and corrupt government officials. One seeks to take more land to make concrete jungles and the wildlife is in their way.
The other, the FWC seeks to provide more hunting opportunities to kill our wildlife so between them, the entire state that is
wild or natural is being threatened.

Your voice and actions are important. Join one of the many Facebook groups that are educating people and keeping people informed. Don’t trust mainstream media to be telling you the truth. They are not. They are
bought. Help write letters, sign petitions, make phone calls and join rallies. Do what you can do. All voices are important.

Wake Up Florida – FWC isn’t who they use to be!

Critical Food Source For Wildlife In Florida Being Sold Off

Should our natural resources be sold off to the highest bidder?
Should they be used for profit while the wildlife that depends on
them for food be depleted of enough sustenance to survive?

That’s exactly what is happening in Florida with the saw palmetto berries.
These berries that have been said to help prostate health and some other ailments
have become quite a big business for pharmaceuticals, the companies that sell to them and the people who pick the berries. Eighty percent
of saw palmetto berries come from Florida.

The saw palmetto berries become ripe in August through September. A time when many migrant workers are out of work because there are no crops to pick. So they have turned to the saw palmetto berries.

The saw palmetto berries come at a cost to the pickers. They even risk their lives as rattle snakes make their homes in the palmetto bushes. There are biting insects and jagged leaves on the bushes that cut their hands and arms. They must wear protective gloves and long sleeves and pick in the Florida heat. But it’s all worth it to them.
They can make over a thousand dollars in just a few days.

Most pickers go out together and pick. Perhaps they are families. They load up in a truck with their bags and machetes and find a spot to pull off of the road to pick for the day. Usually the driver leaves and comes back and picks them up because leaving a truck on the side of the road would be a risk to be found out that they are picking illegally. They pick on private lands without permission. They pick on state land where it is now illegal
since a one year moratorium was placed on the picking of them on state land by agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam who was pressured to do something after public outcry.

These groups of pickers have proven to be a problem to law enforcement who when they come upon them do not have enough man power or vehicles to arrest them. So they make them dump the berries
and send them on their way. One person who doesn’t like the berry pickers said that the private land owners should call the cops to arrest them and stay there to retrieve the berries and go sell them themselves. Not exactly what needs to happen

In 2005 the berries were selling for thirty-five cents a pound but
now are up to as much as three dollars a pound. According to the Hearld
Tribune in Sarasota which ran an article in 2005 about the berries, they had been quietly being sold for more than twenty years. Here we are ten years later and little has been done.

Black bears forage on these berries at a critical time of the year when they are trying to pack on pounds as they prepare to enter into the denning season when they can lose 25% of their weight. And for females, it’s a matter of life or death to their unborn cubs who require this nourishment
to become viable.

As per the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) –
“The relation between the Florida black bear
(Ursus americanus floridanus) and saw palmetto (Serenoa
repens) epitomizes the complexities and challenges in
developing habitat management guidelines for the
Southeast’s largest land mammal. Both species were
once widespread throughout Florida, but now exhibit
patchy distributions throughout the state. Both species
provide keystone processes for the ecosystems in which
they reside: the black bear as a seed disperser (Maehr
1984a, 1997a) and saw palmetto as preferred food and
cover for hundreds of animal species (Maehr and Layne
1996a,b).”

You can see this is a critical plant for bears as well as other wildlife but for many years these berries have been allowed to be picked for a $10 a day permit on state land by the Florida Forest Service. Surely, the FWC knew about this. They are suppose to work together. And yet
it never stopped it. Besides the harvesting there has been burning off of palmettos in controlled burns of scrub land. These burns cause the palmettos not to be able to produce berries because of burning them back to the ground as well as have other negative effects.

In a report by, by Linda Conway Duever Conway Conservation, LLC regarding the Ecology of Saw Palmetto Management, the FWC says the following: “We have been, in effect, managing saw palmetto landscape ecology backwards. We should use longer fire intervals for substantial habitat patches deep in natural area interiors and shorter intervals in more buffer zone areas. This would help protect fruit resources from poachers and keep berry-seeking bears and frond-accumulation fire
hazards away from people, hence reducing the huge costs of nuisance bear incidents, traffic accidents, and urban interface wildfires. Managing mesic South Florida flatwoods for a more natural and diverse landscape mosaic by burning more palmetto in patches closer to the <10 acres/burn area typical of lightning fires in that region is also important, as is remembering that bears and/or panthers may be harmed if fires enter the old palmetto stands they use as denning cover. Since Serenoa repens is predicted to be extraordinarily persistent in the face of climate change, improving management of this species to increase its wildlife value can be
viewed as an especially good longterm investment.”

We have noticed an increase of bears visiting neighborhoods to forage through garbage and whatever else they can find. It has been shown in other states when there are low mast years, bears will venture out into neighborhoods, even breaking into homes in order to find enough to eat. Those low mast years where created by nature in those states. But in Florida, it is man who has created the problem.

Clearly, this problem needs to have more attention. A permanent ban on harvesting of the berries on state land and possibly to include private land. Protections need to be in place to keep these plants safe from humans for the sake of all wildlife. Along with these protections, heftier
fines need to be implemented because as it is, it’s worth it to the harvesters to risk the smallfines in leiu of the rewards they get when they sell them.

The group, Speak Up Wekiva along with senator Darren Soto (D-Fl), has introduced a bill called The Florida Black Bear Habitat Restoration Act. This needs to be supported by everyone as it will help to make these important plants safer.

https://www.change.org/p/the-florida-legislature-the-florida-black-bear-habitat-restoration-act

Together we can all help by reporting harvesters when we see them and protecting the saw palmettos
wherever they are.

Critical Food Source For Wildlife In Florida Being Sold Off