New technology helps keep Florida wildlife and cattle safe

MYAKKA CITY, Fla. – Welcome to Myakka City, about 30 miles east of Sarasota. The ranch is a glimpse into what Florida used to be.

“Every single pavement, road, house, hospital or school, at one point in Florida’s past, used to be a cattle ranch,” said Jim Strickland, the ranch’s owner.

Last winter,  our Eco Hero team saddled up,  herding cattle on land that is a vital part of the Florida’s wildlife corridor.

The cattle ranches connect the Everglades to the South and timberland to the North, providing a type of ecofriendly highway for the state’s many amazing  animals.

Here at Blackbeard Ranch, something exciting is happening that could be a game changer for the wildlife corridor.

Strickland teamed up with University of Florida researcher Joao Vendramini to install invisible fencing, a first-of-its-kind project in the southeast.

With the project, cell towers send signals to collared cattle. The signals send a message to the cattle to stay within a given area on the ranch.

This keeps the cattle safe and allows the state’s abundant wildlife. Especially the endangered Florida panther to move freely in this protected land.

“With invisible fencing, the wildlife are going to be able to run back and through it but the cows with collars won’t,” said Strickland.

Connecting the diverse habitats up and down the state, nearly 18 million acres of land and water, is the only way to ensure wildlife will be able to survive and thrive.

GPS collars on Strickland’s cattle allow him to move the herd with the touch of a button; something that helps protect the delicate wetlands during nesting season.

With the abundance of wetlands in South Florida, allowing cattle to have access because of the diversity of plants and other wildlife could be harmful.

The invisible fencing keeps cattle from wandering off while allowing the wildlife to go right through the fence because they don’t even know it’s there.

Strickland said: “So if we protect that wildlife corridor, we help protect the wildlife, the endangered species of having somewhere for them to go.”

About the Author:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.