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Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife: Saving Southwest Florida, one animal at a time

October 18, 2019
By Lori Haus-Bulcock - Guest Column (Special to The Breeze) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Have you seen us? Sometimes obvious, sometimes not. With shovels and weed-whackers, butterfly nets and hands full of caterpillars our signature adding strength to Everglades Coalition's efforts to persuade developers to alter their plans so the endangered Florida Panther can access its feeding habitat. Up front on the nightly news and local papers: rat poison killing burrowing owls, unscrupulous contractors going to jail for destroying owl burrows, mini-environmental parks coming to a neighborhood near you.

The 2019-2020 season is upon us. Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife is hoping to accomplish as much if not more than we did last year. I'd like to share a few of our 2018-2019 victories for animals and the environment, many of which would not been possible without the support of concerned residents, Mayor Coviello and the City Council.

1. Burrowing Owl and Gopher Tortoise ordinances were approved by the City Council. Both are listed as a "Threatened" animal under the Florida Endangered Species regulations. The city agreed to respond to complaints regarding abuse of these animals, which is now a felony. No need to wait for Florida Fish and Wildlife to respond, just call the city's Code Enforcement office.

2. Ignoring an FWC call to loosen restrictions on the bald eagle, CCFW argued for and the City Council passed the most restrictive eagle ordinance in the state of Florida.

3. Cape Coral Wildlife Trust, CCFW's sister organization, acquired seven lots where gopher tortoises have made their homes. Burrowing owl lots are also slated for purchase. Plans are to create mini parks to educate residents and visitors about our fascinating and fragile wildlife and bring eco-tourist dollars to the Cape.

4. Our members spoke out at community meetings, wrote letters to newspapers and collected signatures in favor of the Parks Bond, which was approved by voters.

Fact Box

A note from the president

This past year has truly been exciting for the CCFW. We have purchased seven lots with gopher tortoises and burrowing owls on them. Two of these parcels have about 125 gopher tortoises living there. We are in the process of getting seven more lots, in addition to a 1.2-acre tract and a 6-acre plot to become a passive park with the last two with little or no cost to us thanks to a generous benefactor. Our goal, down the road, is to get over 100+ lots in the Cape in next 5-10 years. Why, because a great majority of our animals are becoming extinct if the world continues to heat up. Experts tell us we could lose over 70% of our wildlife. The Cape would be a place to come to see wild animals and birds - a great tourist attraction.

The other huge project is to build an Educational Environmental Center. This would be in conjunction with the city of Cape Coral. This project has been in the city books, but one of our board members would like to see the money donated so we could build it. We need strong environmental education to save our water, flora and fauna - to educate our children, residents and tourists about all eco systems and stopping the powers trying to destroy our planet like floods, fires, bad filthy water, tornadoes, huge snow storms and hurricanes.

Please become a member, we need your help or simply donate to our club. Go to our Facebook page to donate or pick up an CCFW application at Rotary Park. By the way, our Facebook page has great emphasis on what is happening to our burrowing owls and other wildlife in the Cape. Great pictures, too.

Better yet, donate your lot. We will even put your name on the lot. It's a great tax break, too.

We invite you all to attend our meetings, which are free and open to the public. You do not have to be a member to attend.

- Carl Veaux, CCFW president

I speak for all the wild animals

5. Installed a butterfly garden, manatee informational signs and decorated park benches at Serenia Vista Park.

6. Created Cape Coral's "Ground Owl Day." In a ceremony at City Hall, Mayor Coviello decreed that Feb. 2 shall forever be Cape Coral's "Ground Owl Day." Six more weeks of winter were predicted by Owliver and Owlivia, newly christened city mascots who live on the grounds of City Hall.

7. Presented interesting and timely programs regarding global warming, invasive species (think nile monitor lizards), sea turtles, black bears and the water quality crisis.

8. Helped organize and carry out the city's burrowing owl census.

9. At our Black Tie Dinner, we raised over $15,000 to help build a $2 million Educational Environmental Center.

Don't miss your opportunity to join in our efforts to preserve our environment for now and for your children and grandchildren. It all starts with a trip to one of CCFW's monthly meetings, where you will learn from fascinating speakers and talk to us about how you can save Southwest Florida, one animal at a time

Lori Haus-Bulcock is a member of the Board of Directors for Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife



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