Now that summer is over we are going to start the fall season with a super island clean up. This is your chance to see and help preserve the beauty of St. Vincent Island. This event, sponsored by Friends of St Vincent, will take place on Friday, Oct. 11. We are looking for a limited number of hardy volunteers (at least 20) to clean up the unspoiled beaches of St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge. These beaches, even though unmarred and untrampled by tourists, receive large amounts of man-made debris and all sorts of flotsam and jetsam of modern life. This debris that people carelessly cast into the gulf is washed onto the beaches where it adversely affects the wildlife on St Vincent Island, especially the nesting sea turtles, birds and marine life.
The cleanup will focus mainly on small debris - bottles, cans, plastic, paper that can be recycled. This cleanup is made possible by the help from three individuals:
* Fonda Davis with Franklin County Solid Waste and Recycling for removing the collected debris from the island;
* Shelley Stiaes, refuge manager, for providing transportation to and from the island;
* Mike Turrisi, a St. Vincent volunteer, for organizing the cleanup event;
All debris collected will be transported by FWS to be collection point where it will be picked up by Franklin County Solid Waste and Recycling. Everything that can be recycled will be recycled.
Volunteers will be transported to St Vincent Island on the US Fish and Wildlife Service barge which will leave from their dock at Indian Pass at 8 a.m. ET. There will be two returns from the island, one at 12 p.m. noon, and the other at 4 p.m. When you volunteer be sure to let us know when you would like to return. This is not a hop-in or hop-out beach cleanup. You will need to choose what is best for you in terms of time and stamina. You will need to bring your own water, food, bug spray, sun screen, appropriate clothing and large black garbage bags for collecting the debris. Please remember it is a refuge and conditions can be extreme (heat, bugs, etc.). This cleanup is not for the faint of heart. If you can make it, you will have the reward of knowing that you helped return one of Florida's last great jewels to its natural state. To register for the cleanup email firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 4 – and thank you for your help!
Turtle season is winding down and it has been a record breaking year on the island. There have been 104 recorded sea turtle nests! Of those nests 23 have been “adopted” by individuals who are interested in supporting the turtle program on the island. The red wolf breeding program is not faring as well. The Red Wolf program which has been ongoing on St. Vincent Island since 1989 has had another disappointing year. One breeding pair of red wolves is kept on the island to produce pups each spring. In the winter the pups are trapped, their health checked, and they are fitted with radio tracking collars. The pups remain with their family until they are 18 months old. They are then trapped and relocated to Alligator River NWR in North Carolina where they are reintroduced into the wild. The staff and volunteers that track the wolves have found no evidence of pups again this year. If there are no pups this spring the two wolves on the island will be swapped out for another pair with the hope that they will be more productive.
Fall and winter on the island always includes three scheduled hunts. The first hunt, the Archery Hunt takes places Nov. 20-24. The popular Sambar Deer Hunt is scheduled for Dec. 4-8 and the Primitive Weapons Hunt is set for Jan. 22-26, 2014. Hunters can apply for any of these hunts at www.myfwc.com/license .
The FWC website also has tips and advice on how to prepare for each hunt.
The monthly island tours resume in the month of October. All tours are on the second Wednesday of each month. The dates for the fall, winter, spring tours are as follows – Oct. 9 (tour already filled), Nov. 13, Dec. 11, Jan. 8, Feb. 12, March 12, April 9, and May 14. Our enhanced website will give you details about the tours plus a convenient place to sign up. Just click on “Island Tour Sign Up”. The tour is free, but participants must make a reservation on the web at www.stvincentfriends.com . Seats are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a small charge for boat transportation to and from the island. You can also visit the island on your own. Do remember that the island is primitive – bring everything you need, including drinking water – and leave only your footprints behind.
This monthly column is provided by the Supporters of St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge. Please visit our web page for more information and volunteer opportunities – www.stvincentfriends.com - and never miss an opportunity to visit St. Vincent Island.