Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Among the reasons for protecting Corkscrew Swamp in southwest Florida is a large concentration of nesting wood storks. As habitats have been destroyed, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has become increasingly important to wood storks. These are big birds, standing nearly three-and-a-half feet tall. They're are long-lived but slow to reproduce in part due to fluctuations in populations of fish and other creatures they eat. Wood storks depend on high water part of the year, allowing for fish populations to grow, followed by low water levels that concentrate these prey, making them easier to capture later. During drought years, prey populations dwindle and storks have little success nesting. With draining of swamps and diversion of more water to human use, drought conditions have become more frequent and wood storks have become endangered. In 1961, 5,900 pairs produced about 17,000 young at Corkscrew swamp. From that high, it has been downhill. In 1993, all 426 nests at Corkscrew failed. Habitat losses outside of the swamp mean they must travel increasing distances to find food.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.