3 To Know: Florida considers prohibiting anacondas, other species

Marco Eagle

1. Florida considers prohibiting anacondas, other species

Invasive pythons run rampant in the Everglades and imported iguana burrow into canal banks with abandon, but Florida is trying to keep additional exotics from gaining a foothold in the state with new rules considered this week.

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Critters including several species of anaconda, the raccoon dog and a freaky fruit bat called the flying fox could be added to the state’s prohibited species list by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission during its recent meeting in Gainesville.

The animals under consideration are already on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of “injurious” species, meaning they can’t be imported into the country. But because they aren’t on Florida’s list of prohibited species, they can come into the state from other states, be used for commercial purposes, or possessed as pets.

“Anything that can get to the size that an anaconda does really shouldn’t be allowed to be owned as a pet in Florida,” said Mike Kirkland, a South Florida Water Management District scientist and project manager for its python elimination program.

In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed three anaconda species and the reticulated python as “injurious reptiles” noting that it was criticized for waiting until 2012 to list the Burmese python as injurious.

It’s unknown how many Burmese pythons roam the Everglades, but estimates are in the tens of thousands. … “Every python removed from the system gives native animals down there a fighting chance,” Kirkland said. “Our program is the most successful management tool to date, but it’s just one tool in a large toolbox.”

According to the FWC, more than 12 million wild-caught reptiles from elsewhere in the world were imported into the U.S. between 1999 and 2010. That included more than 9 million that came through Florida ports. – Kimberly Miller/The Palm Beach Post

2. Michigan woman killed in Collier Blvd. crash

A Michigan woman was killed Saturday afternoon when the car she was riding in was hit when the driver pulled in front of a car on Collier Boulevard in East Naples, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

FHP said a 2012 Buick LaSabre driven by Mary Katherine Russo, 84, of Rochester, Michigan, was northbound shortly after 3:30 p.m. in the left turn lane of Collier at the intersection with Triangle Boulevard.

A 2009 Volvo S80 driven

by Robert Popoff, 57, of Naples, was southbound in the center lane of Collier north of the intersectionm FHP's report said.

FHP said Russo tried making a left turn and entered the center lane and was hit on the passenger side by the front of Popoff 's car.

Catherine Carollo, 84, a passenger in Russo's car, was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital, where she later died.

Russo and Popoff suffered minor injuries.

FHP said the crash is under investigation. – Michael Braun/Staff

3. Clearing begins for future Habitat for Humanity community

The nearly 17 acres of forested land being cleared on the southwest corner of Davis Boulevard and Market Street will be Vincent’s Acres, a future neighborhood of 79 single-family homes for Habitat for Humanity of Collier County.

The Habitat for Humanity neighborhood off of Davis Boulevard in East Naples will be called 'Vincent's Acres.' The neighborhood will have approximately 70 homes and lots of green space. Submitted

“We continue to move through the planning stages for this property and have yet to determine a date when construction will begin and homes will be available for applications,” said Nicholas Kouloheras, president of the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. “For those currently looking for affordable homeownership options, we are still accepting applications for homes in Dockside.”

Habitat homeowners must contribute 500 hours of "sweat equity" to help build these affordable homes alongside volunteers. Homes are sold at cost, and buyers get an affordable, interest-free mortgage.

Vincent’s Acres still is in the development stage because Habitat has been focusing its efforts on building Dockside, a 44-unit neighborhood that broke ground less than four months ago on the banks of Henderson Creek off Collier Boulevard south of U.S. 41 East in south Naples. More at marconews.com. – Tim Aten/Staff