Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island in southwest Florida is one of the crown jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge system. It's named for J.N. "Ding" Darling, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist who championed conservation causes in the 1930s, helped create the Duck Stamp Program with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and became a founder of the National Wildlife Federation. He later lived on Captiva Island. The more than 6,000 acres of Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge embraced habitats of Sanibel Island and tidal waters of San Carlos Bay. Mangrove islands, wetlands surrounded by dikes that were built years ago for mosquito control, some fresh water and upland habitats, and a small area of dune habitat on the gulf-side of Sanibel create a paradise for wildlife. The rich, shallow, coastal waters make wading birds, such as roseate spoonbills, a specialty at Ding Darling. Check tide schedules to see the greatest diversity of birds at Ding Darling; wading birds gather to take advantage of the riches of the estuary at low tide.
'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.