FWC meets in-person in Bonita Springs for first time since pandemic began

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission met for the first time in person on Wednesday since the pandemic began. With the precedence that wildlife and the environment take in the Sunshine State, the agency has quite a bit on its plate.

From helping Florida panthers bounce back to tracking red tide in the Gulf, FWC and its partners stay busy.

“Between FWC and the Water Management District, we’ve taken 7,000 pythons out of the Everglades. That’s a lot of pythons. And that’s only in the last couple of years,” said Chauncey Goss, a member of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board.

“We’re going to keep taking pythons out. The sad part is there are a lot more pythons to take out.”

With all of that in mind, FWC had its first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic on Wednesday morning. “It is nice to see everybody here on the same page,” said Rep. Adam Botana, R-Bonita Springs.

While Florida panthers are on the rebound, a new neurological disease is emerging in them. “Now this is characterized by weakness, partial paralysis in the hind limbs,” said Gil McRae with FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

And, of course, there’s the manatee mortality record left to tackle. Also, there’s a new Lake Okeechobee management plan on the horizon.

“We can make it better, so we can make everything better for the Caloosahatchee,” Goss said. “We can make it better for St. Lucie. We can make it better for the Everglades. We can make it better for the water supply. And that’s my hope that the Corps does that.”

All eyes are on our environment and how FWC chooses to manage it all.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Drew Hill
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