Over 1,000 Florida Hunters Bag Permits For Bear Hunt

August 4, 2015

More than 1,00 permits to hunt bears this fall were sold by Tuesday morning, the first time in more than two decades that such licenses have been available in Florida.

The sale of the special-use permits — available throughout the state at tax collectors’ offices, online and at sporting-goods stores that sell hunting and fishing supplies — began despite a lawsuit that was filed Friday against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to try to halt the hunt.

“I do know the permits are being sold and being sold successfully,” Diane Eggeman, director of the commission’s Division of Hunting and Game Management, said Monday morning.

The state hasn’t estimated how many permits — which cost $100 for Florida residents and $300 for non-residents — will be bought by Oct. 23, the day before the hunt begins.

The hunt is slated to last from two to seven days, depending on the number of bears killed.

Laura Bevan, southern regional director for the Humane Society of the United States, said people seeking permits are only doing so to get trophies, and she doesn’t believe the state is doing enough to limit the number of bears that will be killed.

“All the hunters will go into the woods at the same time. We’re really worried that it’s going to be a slaughterhouse,” Bevan said. “This is a (bear) population that only came off the threatened list 2 1/2 years ago. This is a population that’s under pressure from development, from poaching, from all kinds of things, and now we’re going to open up a hunt.”

The Humane Society supports but isn’t a party to the lawsuit seeking to stop the bear hunt. The lawsuit was filed in Leon County circuit court by the Seminole County-based environmental group Speak Up Wekiva.

“Even if we feel that the hunt is unethical and unscientific there may not be a legal way to stop it,” Bevan said.

The permits went on sale at 5 a.m. Monday. All but six of the first bear permits sold were to Florida hunters.

The state is seeking a 20 percent reduction in the bear population, which is estimated around 3,000. That percentage reduction includes bears dying naturally or getting killed by vehicles, as well as those killed in the hunt.

“We want to reach that minimum number, that harvest objective, so we can reach the stabilization of the populations,” Eggeman said.

The state hasn’t put a limit on the number of special-use bear permits that will be sold, but each hunter will be limited to killing a single bear during the week.

Eggeman said officials don’t expect the hunt to exceed bear-hunting quotas that will be set for each of the four regions of the state where hunting will be allowed — the eastern Panhandle, Northeast Florida, east-central Florida and South Florida.

The commission will set the final quota numbers for each region in September.

Other than to say they are confident a judge will support the commission’s approval of the bear hunt, state officials aren’t discussing the merits of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends the rules for the hunt go against a 1998 voter-approved constitutional amendment that created the commission as an independent body “to conduct management, preservation and conservation decision-making based upon sound science.” The complaint also claims the bear hunt is not based upon sound science and won’t reduce growing conflicts between bears and humans.

The lawsuit didn’t ask a judge to halt the commission from offering the permits.

But supporters of the lawsuit contend the permitting should wait until the courts rule on the lawsuit to reduce the risk of having to refund money to people who have paid.

Opponents of the hunt have argued that Florida’s increased human population is expanding into wildlife habitat and that the state should further implement non-lethal rules, such as bear-proofing trash containers, prohibiting people from feeding wild bears and cracking down on the illegal harvesting of saw palmetto berries, which is a staple of a bear’s diet.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

Wahoos Fall Late To Suns

August 3, 2015

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (20-16, 45-59) fell to the Jacksonville Suns (13-23, 42-63) 5-4 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville Sunday evening. After the Wahoos jumped out to a 3-0 lead, the Suns tied the game 4-4 in the seventh inning and took a 5-4 lead in the eighth.

Pensacola starter Daniel Wright went 5.2 innings while allowing three runs on five hits. Reliever Kyle McMyne (1-4) earned the loss in 1.1 innings of work, as he would allow Jacksonville to take the late lead on a sacrifice fly.

Jacksonville starter Jarlin Garcia pitched 5.0 innings and allowed three early runs on six hits. The win went to Juancito Martinez (1-2), who did not allow a hit or a run through 1.2 innings of work. Kyle Barraclough earned his second save as he struck out the side in the ninth.

The Wahoos were led at the plate by Yovan Gonzalez and Juan Perez. Gonzalez went 2-4 with two doubles and a walk, while Perez went 2-3 with a double and a stolen base.

The Wahoos got off to a strong start as Zach Vincej and Jesse Winker both singled to open the first inning. Marquez Smith would bring Vincej home from third on an RBI groundout to make it 1-0 in favor of Pensacola.

Pensacola struck again in the top of the fourth to score a pair of runs in the frame. A single by Perez and a Gonzalez double would set things up for Beau Amaral, who would single to shallow center and make it 2-0. Vincej would later bring Gonzalez home on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

The Blue Wahoos faced danger in the bottom half of the fourth as a single and a pair of walks loaded the bases for Eudy Pina. However, Wright was able to force him to pop out, ending the threat for Jacksonville.

The Suns were able to get on the board in the bottom of the fifth as pinch-hitter Ryan Rieger would bring Zack Cox home on an RBI single, making the score 3-1.

The Wahoos would score again in the sixth, as Perez would reach home as a bad pickoff attempt resulted in a throwing error. Perez had doubled and stolen third on the previous two at-bats.

Jacksonville would lead off the bottom half with a J.T. Riddle single. Matt Juengel would then bring him home on a double to left, making it 4-2. Juengel would then come home on a sacrifice fly from Pina.

The Suns would tie the game in the seventh on an RBI single form Riddle to score David Adams. McMyne was then able to force a double play with the bases loaded to avoid further damage.

Jacksonville would take the lead for good in the eighth on a sacrifice fly to right off the bat of Adams, bringing Pina home to make it 5-4 in favor of the Suns.

The Blue Wahoos are taking on the Jacksonville Suns through Thursday.

Pensacola Captures Series Against Chattanooga With 8-1 Win

August 2, 2015

For 7.2 innings, Pensacola Blue Wahoos pitcher Barrett Astin gave up just two hits to the Chattanooga Lookouts — a team third in the Southern League in team hitting at .261.

Astin also struck out a season-high nine Lookouts as Pensacola pulled out an 8-1 win and captured the first series this season against Chattanooga, 3-2, Saturday at AT&T Field.

In the third inning, Pensacola would get all the runs they needed when first baseman Marquez Smith lined a double to score left fielder Jesse Winker and go up, 1-0. Right fielder Juan Duran then singled in Smith for a 2-0 lead.

Smith and Duran were the stars of Pensacola’s 15-hit attack on Saturday. Smith was 2-4 with two doubles, scoring three runs and driving in two more. He now has a team-leading 17 doubles on the year with a team-leading 37 RBIs and is batting .275.

Duran was 3-5 with four RBIs, including two RBIs. He has 22 RBIs and is batting .308 in 29 games for Pensacola.

Pensacola third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean got on base four times, going 2-3, with two walks, one run scored and also drove in his 37th run of the year. Meanwhile, DH Sean Buckley also reached base four times on three hits and a walk in five total at bats.

The team hit a season-high eight doubles in the game, the most since hitting seven against April 20th at Birmingham. Bryson Smith, Jesse Winker, Kyle Skipworth and Buckley each added a double a piece to the evening.

Astin cruised into the eighth and got the first two batters out before walking the next two batters and giving up a run scoring single to shortstop Jorge Palanco. In seven starts since June 29 with the Blue Wahoos, Astin is 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA. He has struck out 37 batters in 44 innings with the Double-A team.

The Blue Wahoos travel to take on the Jacksonville Suns beginning Sunday.

Blackwater Forest Home To First-Ever XTERRA Triathlon This Weekend

August 1, 2015

XTERRA, the global sport of off-road triathlon that has been contested world-wide for over 20 years, comes to the area this weekend.  One Sunday, a sold out field of 150 athletes will swim, bike, and run in and around Bear Lake in hopes of claiming the first ever XTERRA Blackwater title.

Staged in the beautiful Blackwater River State Forest at the Bear Lake Recreation Area, the race consists of an 800 yard swim, a 13 mile mountain bike and a 3.75 mile trail run.

Nine states will be represented once the start gun fires.  Included in the field is accomplished pro triathlete Sara McLarty.  The Clermont, FL, resident was the 2005 USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year, a member of Team USA in the 2007 and 2011 Pan-Am Games, and has numerous top 10 and top 5 finishes at premier triathlons around the world.

Hosted by SOML Racing (So Others May Live), a non-profit organization consisting of Naval Aviation Rescue Swimmers, families, and friends, it’s an organization that strives to be a formidable force in the lives of those whose seek to better themselves mentally and physically, as every Navy rescue swimmer knows, “So Others May Live!”

Wahoos Even Series With Win Over Chattanooga

August 1, 2015

Cody Reed (W, 1-0) was stellar in his organizational debut Friday night at AT&T Field in Chattanooga, leading the Blue Wahoos to a 4-1 win to even the series. Reed earned the win while matching his season-high with seven strong innings allowing just a first-inning run. He walked only one and struck out six.

The Lookouts took advantage of a leadoff double in the first inning by Shannon Wilkerson to take a 1-0 lead. The game stayed that way until Pensacola rallied in the seventh. With Juan Duran at second after a one-out double, Seth Mejias-Brean ripped a groundball right between the legs of the first baseman D.J. Hicks. Duran scored on the error to tie the game and snap Pensacola’s scoreless streak at 15 innings. Mejias-Brean scored the go-ahead run when Sean Buckley singled him home later in the inning.

The Wahoos added to their lead with a couple more runs in the eighth. Duran came through again with a two-run single scoring Ryan Wright and Jesse Winker to make it a 4-1 game. Duran led the offense with a 3-for-4 night including the two RBI and a run scored.

The bullpen finished strong for the Blue Wahoos. Kevin Shackelford pitched a scoreless eighth inning in his third outing since returning from the disabled list. Zack Weiss picked up his 13th save by striking out the side in order in the ninth.

Chattanooga’s Greg Peavey (6-3) took the loss after allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits over 6.1 innings.

Pensacola will look for their third series win of the second half tomorrow night. RHP Barrett Astin (2-2, 3.96) is expected to be activated prior to the game going up against LHP David Hurlbut (7-4, 3.77). First pitch is set for 6:15 CT from AT&T Field in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Blue Wahoos are on a 10-day road trip against the Chattanooga Lookouts and Jacksonville Suns.

Wahoos Fall In Pitcher’s Duel

July 31, 2015

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (18-15, 43-57) were stymied at the plate in a 3-0 loss to the Chattanooga Lookouts (13-18, 56-43) Thursday night at AT&T Field.

Wahoos starter Josh Smith (5-4) earned the loss despite a solid effort at the mound, throwing all eight innings and allowing three runs on eight hits.

The game would be won by Chattanooga’s Jason Wheeler (2-2), who threw 8.0 shutout innings while only allowing three hits. J.T. Chargois would relieve him in the ninth to earn his eighth save of the season.

Yovan Gonzalez, a player known more for his behind-the-plate prowess than his offensive ability, led Pensacola at the dish. He went 2-3 and was the only Wahoo with multiple hits on the evening.

The Wahoos threatened in the top of the third as Juan Perez and Yovan Gonzalez opened the frame with a pair of singles. However, Wheeler retired three straight batters to keep avoid damage.

The Lookouts got the scoring started in the bottom of the third as Aderlin Mejia was brought to the plate on a sacrifice fly from Heiker Meneses. They added another run on a solo blast over the right field wall from Max Kepler to make it 2-0.

The Wahoos would load the bases with three consecutive two-out singles from Gonzalez, Amaral and Zach Vincej, but they were unable to capitalize as a grounder ended the frame. Before those hits, Wheeler had retired 17 straight Wahoo batters.

Chattanooga added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth with another solo home run for Kepler, this time on a line drive for his sixth of the season. Smith had retired 10 straight before the homer.

In the ninth, the Wahoos put two men on with a Marquez Smith walk and a Sean Buckley single, but the Wahoos came up empty once again.

The scoreless effort marked the first time that the Wahoos had been shut out since a 1-0 defeat in Mississippi on June 26th.

Seth Mejias-Brean did not reach base for the Wahoos, bringing an end to a streak of 23 consecutive road games.

The Blue Wahoos are on a 10-day road trip against the Chattanooga Lookouts and Jacksonville Suns

Ernest Ward Cheerleaders Attend Summer Camp; Five Named ‘All American’

July 30, 2015

The 2015-2016 Ernest Ward Middle School Cheerleaders attended a three-day Universal Cheerleaders Association camp at the school this week, learning new cheers, stunts, chants and dances for the upcoming year.

Five of the girls were chosen as UCA All-American and will have the opportunity to to cheer in the Thanksgiving Day Parade at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

Award presented included:

  • Anna Adams- All American and Most Improved
  • Lexi Broadhead- All American
  • Jada Crabtree- All American
  • Ashlan Harigel- All American, Dancing Diva and Camp MVP
  • Cloe Smith- All American and Best Attitude

Pictured: Ernest Ward Middle School UCA All-American cheerleaders (L-R, standing) Cloe Smith, Ashlan Harigel, Lexi Broadhead, Jada Crabtree, and (kneeling) Anna Adams. Submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Blue Wahoos Win In Extra Innings

July 30, 2015

It took 10 runs, 16 hits and seven pitchers, but the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (18-14, 43-57) got back into the win column after a 10-9 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts (12-18, 55-43) at AT&T Field Wednesday night.

With multi-hits from four different players, Pensacola registered season-highs in runs, hits and RBIs in the extra-inning game. Both Juan Perez and Beau Amaral went 3-5 with a run and three RBIs while Juan Duran went 3-5 with two runs and a RBI. Seth Mejias-Brean went 2-3 with two runs, an RBI and a walk.

The Blue Wahoos started the game by scoring two runs on three hits in the first inning for an early lead. After a leadoff single, Ryan Wright scored off of Duran’s RBI single. Duran later scored off of Perez’s single to shallow left field.

Starting pitcher Tim Adleman left the game in the second inning with an elbow injury after giving up one hit in 1.2 innings. RHP Jacob Johnson came into relief and threw 3.1 innings of work allowing two runs on five hits in his first appearance for the Blue Wahoos since being transferred back from Louisville.

With two-outs in the second inning, Pensacola added two more runs to the scoreboard as Duran got his second single of the game and Seth Mejias-Brean notched his 12th double of the season. Perez knocked them in with a double to the right field wall. Perez’s three RBIs are a season-high and the most since July 20, 2014 for the Bakersfield Blaze.

The Lookouts got on the board in the fourth inning as Stuart Turner was walked by Johnson and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Levi Michael doubled on a line drive to right-center field to score Turner.

In the fifth inning, Marquez Smith was walked and advanced to third on a deep double to left field by Duran for his third hit of the night. Smith scored on a sacrifice fly by Mejias-Brean as the Blue Wahoos took a 5-1 lead.

Heiker Meneses scored for Chattanooga in the bottom of the fifth off of a RBI double by Max Kepler to make the game 5-2. LHP Joel Bender came into the game for the Wahoos in the sixth inning and gave up two runs on three hits to make it 5-4.

After a few quiet innings, the Lookouts went on a scoring rampage in the eighth. Meneses started the inning with a single. Patrick Shuster came in to replace Miguel Celestino on the mound. Celestino promptly gave up a home run to Kelpler. After a single, fielding error and two walks, Aderlin Mejia drove in two runs to take an 8-5 lead.

The Blue Wahoos began a comeback and tied the game 8-8 in the ninth inning. Beau Amaral hit a one-run single to score Ray Chang. Smith double to right field to drive in both Cam Maron and Amaral.

In the top of the 10th, the Blue Wahoos scored two runs on Amaral’s double to right field scoring both Mejias-Brean and Perez.

Zack Weiss, who came into the game in the ninth inning, registered his first career Double-A win going 2.0 innings recording three hits, one run, one walk and one strikeout.

The Blue Wahoos are on a 10-day road trip against the Chattanooga Lookouts and Jacksonville Suns.

Wahoos Fall To Lookouts

July 29, 2015

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (17-14, 42-57) got off to a hot start but fell to the Chattanooga Lookouts (12-17, 55-42) at AT&T Field Tuesday night.

Wahoos starter Daniel Wright (7-8, 4.66) fell after three consecutive wins on a night in which he gave up seven runs on nine hits in 3.2 innings. Most of the damage came in the decisive fourth inning, when the Lookouts had seven runs on six hits and a pair of walks. He was relieved by Wandy Peralta, newly a member of the bullpen, who went 3.0 and gave up a run on four hits.

Chattanooga’s Brett Lee (1-4, 4.25) earned his first Double-A win in nine tries this season as he went 5.0 innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits.

The Wahoos struck first in the second with a three-run inning keyed by a two-RBI double from Seth Mejias-Brean, who lead the Wahoos at the plate as he went 2-4. He would later score on a throwing error to make it 3-0.

After a few frames of quiet baseball, the Lookouts made some noise in the bottom of the fourth as they scored seven runs on six hits, taking a 7-3 lead and chasing Wright out of the game in the process.

The Wahoos attempted to cut into the lead in the top of the fifth as they loaded the bases without a hit, but they came up empty as Lee was able to hold strong.

The Lookouts added to their lead as Shannon Wilkerson drove in a run on a double to right field, making the score 8-3.

The Wahoos threatened again in the eighth as Juan Duran’s double and Mejias-Brean’s single put runners at the corners with nobody out. However, the Wahoos came up empty.

RHP Kevin Shackelford did not give up a hit in the eighth inning as he made his 20th appearance since April 25. Since then, he’s gone 1-3 with a 1.50 ERA (four earned runs in 24.0 innings of work) with nine walks and 12 strikeouts.

The Wahoos have now dropped four straight after reaching the top of the division last week at 17-10.

The Blue Wahoos are on a 10-day road trip against the Chattanooga Lookouts and Jacksonville Suns.

Northview Grad Weeks Inks With Jeff Davis Baseball

July 28, 2015

Northview High School graduate Brett Weeks has signed a full baseball scholarship with Jefferson Davis Community College in Brewton. Weeks was part of Northview’s district and regional championship teams and the’s first appearance in the state final four. Pictured: Brett Weeks (center), his mother Julie Weeks, father Ray Weeks (right) and Northview Coach Marty Lister (standing). Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

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