Vol. 8, No. 4, April 2012

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Class Photos
Regional Law Enforcement Training in Animal Rescue

In providing this training, we spent a lot of time showing students where basic human rescue gear can be adapted to perform animal rescue, writes John Haven, Director Health/Medical Administration of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine. "Much of this 'dual use' equipment is already available on the approved equipment list as of the recent revision, and so is some of the horse and cow special equipment. While our rig is truly equipped second to none in Florida, a small starter kit can be accomplished in the $2,500-$5,000 range, and it will address 80 percent of the emergencies that responders come across." (John Haven photos)


The Cats of Caboodle Ranch

At the request of Madison County Animal Control and the Madison County Sheriff's Office, the ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team recently removed hundreds of cats from an overwhelmed cat sanctuary known as Caboodle Ranch in Madison County. A year-long investigation resulted in a search warrant that found cats living in overcrowded and filthy conditions. Many exhibited signs of severe neglect and a host of medical issues. Responders found many dead and decomposing cats, and multiple shallow graves.

With nearly 700 cats removed, this is the largest number of cats the ASPCA has ever seized in the course of an animal cruelty investigation. Rescued animals were relocated to a temporary shelter in Jacksonville for veterinary care.

Of special note said ASPCA responders was the difference between the version of the Caboodle Ranch presented on its website and the reality on the ground.

More than 100 responders assisted with the investigation, including staff and volunteers from the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine and the following organizations:

Atlanta Humane Society (Atlanta, GA)
Bay Area Disaster Animal Response Team (Belleair Bluffs, FL)
Cat Depot (Sarasota, FL)
Florida State Animal Response Coalition (Bushnell, FL)
Good Mews Animal Foundation (Marietta, GA)
Humane Society of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, MA)
McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center (Chattanooga, TN)
PetSmart Charities, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ)
RedRover (Sacramento, CA)
Sumter DART (Bushnell, FL)

Left: Craig Grant (from http://animalhoardinginfo.blogspot.com/2012/02/craig-grant-caboodle-ranch-florida.html ) referred to himself as Mayor of Caboodle Ranch. Right: HSUS photo of diseased cat at Caboodle Ranch in Madison County.

The founder and operator of Caboodle Ranch, Craig Grant, was arrested and charged with one count of felony animal cruelty, three counts of cruelty to animals and one count of scheming to defraud. The cats are currently considered evidence in the criminal case, but the ASPCA will work on placement once their final disposition is determined by the prosecutor. See http://www.aspca.org/news/700-cats-pulled-from-florida-sanctuary-this-week.

            Dr. Kendra Stauffer (USDA VS employee) volunteered her personal time on a weekend to work with the UF/CVM Maddie's Shelter program under the direction of Dr. Cate McManus as part of the medical intake team at Caboodle Ranch. "It was a humbling and yet very gratifying experience," she said, "to work with the ASPCA to help examine, treat, and house the enormous number of cats at the ranch."

            Dr. Stauffer has been involved with other animal seizures/hoarding events but this was by far the largest. "The Maddie's Shelter staff provided assistance and guidance for two weeks to the ASPCA and I was impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the staff. They were efficient, aware of the legalities surrounding the seizure, but never compromised compassion and care towards these felines."

"You don't finish a strategic plan," says Ashby Green of the Florida Cattlemen's
Association http://www.floridacattlemen.org/. "You keep updating it."


Do you know about "Amnesty Day?"

The Nonnative Pet Amnesty Program is an effort to reduce the number of nonnative species released into the wild by pet owners who can no longer care for their pets or who, for any reason, no longer wish to keep them. Managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/amnesty-day-events/, a SART partner, Amnesty Day events give people a chance to turn over nonnative pets to the stewardship of the agency. Surrender of an animal is free and there are no penalties. Every attempt is made to place healthy animals with qualified adopters.

Florida residents may give up exotic pets at a Fish & Wildlife Commission Amnesty Day – "no questions asked." Every effort is made to place

Nonnative reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and invertebrates are accepted at Amnesty Day. Domestic pets, such as dogs, cats or ferrets, are not accepted. A goal of the program is to foster responsible pet ownership.

At an Amnesty Day, exotic pet owners and anyone interested in acquiring a nonnative pet can talk to experts to learn about that animal's needs. Events are free and open to the public. Low cost micro-chipping is often available.

Pet adopters are recruited before each Amnesty Day to give homes to surrendered exotic animals. Adopters must submit an application to be reviewed by FWC. Becoming a nonnative pet adopter. Approved applicants receive a letter of acceptance which must be brought to Amnesty Day events.

These events help increase awareness of nonnative species problems. Over 400 nonnative species have been observed in Florida, and more than 130 have reproducing populations. It is illegal to release into the wild any animal that is not native to Florida.



Quick Quiz – Florida Agriculture & Response

(Answers at end of this month's SART Sentinel.)

1. According to the most recently published numbers, Florida has how many thousand farms:
a. 9,950
b. 14,000
c. 47,000
d. None of the above
2. Florida is a world leader in what type rock? (Hint: Florida produces 25 percent of the world supply and 90 percent is used for fertilizer in the production of food and fiber.)
a. Phosphate
b. Iron
c. Sandstone
d. Tungsten
3. You've worked all day responding to a summertime agricultural incident. Without rest and re-hydration you can lose water that is vital to effective functioning. In a hot environment, how much water might you lose per hour?
a. One cup
b. Two quarts
c. Two gallons
d. None of the above
4. Can you correctly identify the following photos of cattle beef breeds raised in Florida?

Bonus Fill in the Blanks: "With over 1.1 million head of beef cattle, Florida is the _______ largest beef-producing state east of the Mississippi River and is ranked _______ in the nation.

5. Can you spot the crop that is not grown commercially in Florida in the list below?
a. Pecan                                                                   d. Chestnut
b. Peanut                                                                  e. walnut
c. Almond                                                                 f. Macadamia


Florida Burning

Fire managers at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge use a specially designed ignition device to start a prescribed burn in this northern Everglades ecosystem, protecting human communities from subsequent wildfire. The equipment ignites with propane, leaving no petroleum residue to adversely affected water quality and wildlife habitat. (USFWS photo)

Florida SART Founder Tim Manning, now state director of USDA's Farm Service Agency, used to say that Florida could do without hurricanes, but it needed several wet "tropical waves" each year. In other words, to fill the aquifer he kept his fingers crossed for bountiful rain without the wind.

With no significant rain in sight, drought conditions are worsening across Florida. As of April 10, 64 wildfires are burning in Florida, 12 of them more than 100 acres. They have blackened more than 4,300 acres and smoke is in the air continually across central Florida.

According to Forest Service spokesman Don Ruths, cooperation between agencies is part of an aggressive program that has been in place for four years now. Lake County, for instance, has adopted a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, where all fire agencies plan and train together for a coordinated effort in battling wildfires.

The Florida Forest Service not only keeps track of the Keetch Byram Drought Index, but at http://flame.fl-dof.com/fire_danger/wims-report.html it gives an observed fire danger map and related fire index report. Here is the map for April 15.


Caught on Radar …

Minutes of Advisory Board Meeting

           The Florida SART Advisory Board met on April 4th at the Alachua Regional Service Center in Alachua. Dale Dubberly welcomed the twenty attendees and Joe Kight opened the meeting at about 10 o'clock.

Richard Miranda

Mark Fagan

Binaca Blakley

           A highlight of the session was a strong presentation from Richard Miranda and Mark Fagan [both FDACS/DPI] about efforts to eradicate the invasive Giant African Land Snail from Florida. "We have been aggressive in going after invasive pests and work very cooperatively with the USDA and UF/IFAS," Miranda noted.

           "If this got out of control," Fagan said, "USDA could quarantine Florida produce and the effects would be tremendous."

Left: Richard Miranda discusses the structure of emergency response with David Perry. Right: Ashby Green (Florida Cattlemen’s Assn.), Laura Bevan (HSUS) and Connie Brooks (FL-SARC).

           To read more about that effort and the snail that can grow to nine inches, live nine (or more!) years, lay more than 1,200 eggs per year and eat the stucco off your house – http://www.flsart.org/jsp/member/OperationsMeetingMinutes.jsp.

           Joe Kight, David Perry and Kendra Stauffer updated the group on Florida SART and SART-related training exercises: horse events at a major airport, efforts to provide an efficient and cost effective means to track animals through shelters in emergencies, state-approved courses for large and small animals and an April 28 tornado exercise. And more…

"It's a nightmare situation," said Richard Miranda, FDACS/DPI, referring to the spread of the invasive Giant African Land Snail in south Florida. "Many properties are overgrown and filled with debris." On request, FDACS' Forestry sent two strike teams to assist in the on-going and very labor intensive effort. "By December, we had physically removed 32,400 snails. We have now expanded the search to 14 core areas (one mile in diameter) and have removed about 44,000 snails."

"Eye of the Hurricane"

Eye of the Hurricane, a movie set in the Florida Everglades, tells the story of a family trying to pull itself together in the aftermath of a hurricane. The central character, a 9-year old boy named Homer, searches for the eye he lost in the storm.

           Based on the late '90s storm Hurricane Andrew, the film "skillfully reveals the terrifying yet enlightening effects of a natural disaster as only a Florida filmmaker can," according to a press release from the Florida Film Festival. Eye of the Hurricane has a web page with a trailer at www.eyeofthehurricanemovie.com. A trailer is also on YouTube.com at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEiSI_os82U . More information about this year's Florida Film Festival can also be found at www.floridafilmfestival.com.

In Utah: The Emergency Animal Response Coalition

           Called UEARC, the Utah Coalition http://uearc.blogspot.com/ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that coordinates the efforts of supportive state agencies, local emergency management and animal/agricultural resources, non-governmental organizations and volunteers and private sector businesses.

           Utah EARC recently held its 3rd annual "Animals in Disaster" workshop in Provo. In February, they conducted Large Animal Technical Rescue Training in the snow in Parowan.

           The Utah EAR Coalition's mission is to:

  • Facilitate a prompt and effective response to animal emergency issues in Utah in a manner consistent with the National Incident Management System and the Utah Emergency Operations Plan.
  • Reduce threats to the health and safety of humans and animals during an emergency.
  • Minimize the economic impact of animal issues during emergencies.
  • Maximize resources available for recovery efforts related to animals and animal agriculture.
  • Be a resource for training to local emergency personnel.

Dr. Warren Hess, DVM, Assistant State Veterinarian, Utah Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Industry works with UEARC and recently reported on the state conference in a NASAAEP conference call. For additional information, the Assistant State Veterinarian office number is (801) 538-4910.

A Below-Average 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season?
            Hurricane season begins June 1and lasts until Nov. 30
            Meteorologists at Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Projecthttp://typhoon.atmos.colostate.edu/ have predicted a below-average 2012 Atlantic hurricane season: 10 tropical storms, four of them hurricanes.

Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project is headed by William Gray (left) and Phillip Klotzbach.

            Co-authors Philip Klotzbach and William Gray said reasons for the less-than-active season include a cooling of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and a developing El Niño in the Pacific, both of which tend to suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic. A typical year sees 12 tropical storms, six of them hurricanes.
            Going further afield, the CSU team says there's a 42 percent chance that at least one major hurricane with winds above 111mph will make landfall on the U.S. coastline (the long-term average probability is 52 percent).
            Does the CSU team make better predictions than a chimpanzee with a typewriter and does it matter? According to USA Today: "Since 2000, the team has under-forecast the number of named tropical storms and hurricanes six times, over-forecast three times and been almost right — within two storms — three times.
            Go to http://www.news.colostate.edu/content/documents/apr2012.pdf for the entire, 42-page forecast.

Florida Alligator – The other white meat?

            The latest (2005) Florida Agricultural Statistical Directory http://www.florida-agriculture.com/pubs/pubform/pdf/Florida_Agricultural_Statistical_Directory.pdf lists alligators under "Aquaculture." Although the reptile is not Number One in that category, it is significant and will grow (below, "product value" in millions of dollars):

Tropical fish - $33.23
Aquatic plants - $17.56
Clams - $10.69
Alligators - $4.07
Catfish & tilapia - $1.91
Other fish - $1.73

Alligator farming is a potential growth sector of the agriculture industry in Florida. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is responsible at this time for policing all aspects of the industry.
(Rick Sapp photos)

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, a SART partner, regulates Florida alligator farming: "Because the alligator hide and meat market is extremely volatile, alligator farming is a very tenuous business. For a primer on what alligator farming involves, read the extension publications below and review the alligator farming regulations, 68A-25.004, 68A-25.031, and 68A-25.052 FAC."

Everglades National Park releases invasive species tracking app
            The Everglades National Park has released a free, mobile app for identifying and reporting invasive plant and animal exotics in Florida. The "IveGot1" app was developed for the popular iPhone to make identification and reporting easy. Download it at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ivegot1-identify-report-invasive/id381326170?mt=8.
            IveGot1 is a real time invasive species reporting tool and part of an outreach campaign that includes the app, a website with direct access to invasive species reporting, and a hotline 1-888-IVEGOT1 to report live animals. The app lets observations report directly with their iPhone and uploads to a location that e-mails results immediately. Data collected allows scientists to assess the extent of infestations and perhaps eradicate new infestations before they become problems.

            IveGot1 was developed by the University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health's Technology through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and the Warnell School. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants were also part of this project, which was funded through the Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA).
            For more information contact: Linda Friar (305) 242-7714 or the University of Georgia's Chuck Bargeron (229) 386-3298.

The Florida Mango
           Have you eaten your mango today? Florida mango acreage for 2000 was reported to be 1,675 acres or about 168,000 trees. Mango acreage has been constant since Hurricane Andrew struck in fall of 1992. Prior to Andrew, production in Florida was twice the present level.
           In the last year for which production statistics are available (1997), a crop of 100,000 bushels (5.5 million pounds) was harvested. At a price of $14.50 per bushel, this crop was worth $1.45 million.\
            Over 80 percent of mango production occurs in Miami-Dade County. No other state reports the production of mangos. http://www.ipmcenters.org/cropprofiles/docs/flmango.html.

The National Mango Board in Orlando believes interest in the mango is on the rise. A recent study showed increases in mango movement, number of current purchasers, incidences of people eating mangoes plus higher consumer satisfaction. http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/Study-shows-increases-in-US-mango-consumption-146455035.html



About the SART Sentinel

The SART Sentinel is an e-mail newsletter prepared monthly by the members of the Florida State Agricultural Response Team. Past issues of the Sentinel are archived on the Florida SART Web Site www.flsart.org.

If you have a story or photo that you would like to have considered for publication in the SART Sentinel, please contact the editors.

Editor: Rick Sapp, PhD, Technical Writer, under contract with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry rsa5@cox.net

Associate Editor: Joe Kight, State ESF-17 Coordinator, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry Joe.Kight@freshfromflorida.com


Answers: A Quick Quiz – Florida Agriculture

  1. The best answer is c, 47,000. The most recent number reported by FDACS was 47,500. (http://www.fl-ag.com/agfacts.htm)
  2. Florida is a world leader in phosphate rock production, annually producing 75 percent of the U.S. supply and 25 percent of the world supply. Of all the phosphate in commercial production: 90 percent is used for fertilizer for the production of food and fiber; 5 percent is used for livestock feed supplements; 5 percent is used for vitamins, soft drinks, toothpaste, film, light bulbs, bone china, flame-resistant fabrics and optical glass. (http://www.fl-ag.com/agfacts.htm)
  3. Your body has different ways of making sure it doesn't overheat. One of the most obvious ways is by sweating. Sweat evaporates on your skin and helps to cool it down. Working in a hot environment can cause you to lose up to 2 quarts of water per hour through sweat. That's about 4 pounds of water weight! (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1325: the EDIS report uses liters: 1 liter = 1.056 quart)
  4. The five types of cattle in the photos above are, left-to-right: Angus, Brahman, Charolais, Hereford and the redoubtable Florida cracker cow. http://www.florida-agriculture.com/pubs/pubform/pdf/Cattle_of_Florida_Ganado_de_la_Florida.pdf
    1. Bonus: Bonus Fill in the Blanks: "With over 1.1 million head of beef cattle, Florida is the third largest beef-producing state east of the Mississippi River and is ranked tenth in the nation. http://www.polkcountycattlemensassociation.com/cattleindustry/cattleindustry.html
  5. Apparently, the almond is the only nut in the list that is not produced commercially in Florida! http://smallfarms.ifas.ufl.edu/crops/fruits_and_nuts/nut_crops.html