To the untrained eye the vast area of sea grass known as the Florida Everglades may look fine, but the folks who protect the land see something much different.
“We’re in extreme high water, actually the highest water level recorded ever for this time of the year," Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Ron Bergeron said, during a airboat tour Thursday about five miles south of Alligator Alley.
Video from the FWC from last summer shows a healthy refuge for panthers and deer, but now nearly 90 percent of their habitat is flooded. Bergeron said if the water lasts 30 to 60 days, that could spell trouble.
“If this water stays here longer than that with no refuge for the fur-bearing animals, there’ll be an absolute massacre of our wild life and endangered species that live here in the Florida Everglades," he said.
It's only the beginning of the rainy season and there's about three months left.
To fix the water issue Bergeron wants federal and state agencies to be proactive and not reactive, getting them to work with the water-management district. He’d like to see them open the man-made gate holding back the Everglades water at Tamiami Trail, a plan used five years ago in a similar environmental emergency.
“We have a responsibility to protect it for future generations and the day we destroy it, our quality of life will change dramatically in South Florida," Bergeron said.
Bergeron said an eerily similar situation happened in 1994, wiping out 98 percent of the fur-bearing wildlife and if federal and state agencies cooperate to minimize the damage, the Everglades will live on and never have to repeat a deadly history.