Visitors and volunteers to CREW’s Bird Rookery Swamp got a shock on Wednesday, March 5th, when they discovered two resident water moccasins had been killed – heads smashed – and left by the side of the trail. The two moccasins had been visible sunning themselves on a log or by the base of a tree for weeks in the same spot near the old railroad tie exhibit along the south tram. They had become regular sightings as well as a good teaching tool for guided walks. Then, suddenly, they were dead – killed on purpose by humans.
It is beyond our comprehension that any visitor who cares at all about the environment and the wildlife of Bird Rookery Swamp would think it OK to take the lives of two creatures who make their home there. While snakes are often the objects of fear for many humans, they rarely strike at people who keep their distance and respect their space. These two snakes belonged in Bird Rookery Swamp, maintaining the balance of nature and acting in the role they were born to play. Now, they are gone.
The primary purpose of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) project is to protect the land, water, and wildlife resources within the watershed. Recreation and public access is a secondary goal. Water and wildlife come first – always. So, it is the responsibility of each visitor to be respectful and to give all wildlife (and plants) the space they need to go about their business with the least stress possible. That means giving the alligators a wide berth (and NOT throwing sticks at them), being careful not to step on snakes crossing the trail, keeping dogs on leash and children under control, and taking photographs from a respectful distance. Our personal safety and the safety and well-being of all the animals which reside there is the responsibility of each and and every person who visits the trails. Educate your friends and family. Do your part. Be respectful. Leave the animals to live their lives in relative peace.
FWC law enforcement officers do patrol the CREW trails, but they can’t be there at all times, so it is up to each visitor to honor the place and the animals and show the respect they deserve. If you see anyone harming plants or animals within CREW, please report the violation immediately to the FWC Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Information leading to an arrest can make you eligible for up to a $1000 reward.
Let’s make sure the trails remain open to the public by protecting the animals that live there and share their space with us!