Animals marooned on Everglades tree islands are dying

High water levels in the Everglades have stranded animals on levees and tree islands, triggering emergency measures by water managers to drain flooded areas.

This week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers changed its water storage rules to temporarily allow for more water to be stored in water conservation areas through the fall and into the dry season.

Related: Flood gates can now open into sparrow territory.

This is the second time this summer that the corps was forced to make emergency changes to account for the high water levels caused by heavy rainfall in early June and in recent weeks.

“Heavy rain since the beginning of June have caused the water levels in the conservation areas to rise to historic levels for this time of year,” the corps said in a statement.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissioner “Alligator” Ron Bergeron sent a graphic letter to the corps this week describing the conditions of animals marooned on the tree islands, levees and spoil islands.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

He said huddled on higher ground, their preferred food sources are limited and they must eat less nutritious food, which increases stress.

“Over time, fat reserves become exhausted and malnutrition and death will occur,” Bergeron said. “Extended duration high water conditions also have detrimental long-term effects on the essential foraging and nesting habitats of federally-listed species such as wood storks and snail kites.”

A view of tree islands free of Old World Climbing Fern in the northern boundaries of the Everglades in Palm Beach County. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)


This celebrity joined the hunt for pythons in Florida, killing three snakes

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay joined the fight against Florida’s invasive Burmese pythons recently, cooking up his catch on a levee near where one of the snakes was found.

The Emmy-nominated chef tagged along with one of the South Florida Management District’s python hunters, catching three snakes in western Miami-Dade County.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman said Burmese pythons from Everglades National Park have been found to have very  high levels of mercury.

“Therefore, meat from pythons harvest in Florida may not be recommended for human consumption,” according to the FWC website.

An email sent to Ramsay’s press agent was not immediately returned.

The python hunt was part of an upcoming segment for his latest series, The F Word with Gordon Ramsay, which airs Wednesday on Fox.

Video: Florida’s lieutenant governor digs up massive Everglades python.

Their kills bring the total number of invasive pythons eliminated by the SFWMD Governing Board’s Python Elimination program to 317 snakes in four months.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and his son, Jack, pose with SFWMD Python Hunter Kyle Penniston and Jason Catarineau and two of the three Burmese pythons they eliminated on Saturday. Ramsay went on a python hunt with Penniston for an upcoming episode of his live show, THE F WORD WITH GORDON RAMSAY, on FOX.

Video: Dusty “Wildman” Crum catches nearly 17-foot python in Everglades hunt. 

The South Florida Water Management District approved the python hunt earlier this year. The job pays minimum wage plus bonuses based on the length of the snake.

Ramsay hunted with Kyle Penniston and Jason Catarineau.

“It was a blast hunting with the Ramsays and they were very respectful of what we are doing here in the Everglades, fighting these invasive predators to save the ecosystem,” said Penniston, who has hunted snakes for years but tasted python for the first time this weekend when he ate Ramsay’s cooking. “What an honor to have my first taste of python cooked by Chef Ramsay.”

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