Craig Pittman, Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

Craig Pittman

Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

I’m a native Floridian whose family arrived here in 1850. I graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where my muckraking for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label me “the most destructive force on campus.” Since then I’ve covered a variety of beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Stories I have written on environmental issues have won national awards, and "The Daily Show" once called me a "nerd" about Florida history. I’ve written four books. The most recent one,Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, is a New York Times bestseller and won a Florida Book Awards gold medal in 2017.

Controversial 'rogue veterinarian' quits ZooTampa

ZooTampa veterinarian Ray Ball amputated flippers on two injured manatees rescued from the wild. Instead of taking them into captivity to undergo rehabilitation and further treatment against infection, he ordered them turned loose -- in one case, against the recommendation of the state's top manatee veterinarian.
Ray Ball, accused of manatee malpractice and on suspension, will pursue "academic opportunities," according to zoo officials

Lawyer who shooed raccoon off boat 'had a world of options' say experts

A viral video showing a man shooing a raccoon off a boat ? leading to the animal’s presumed death ? has triggered an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Clearwater lawyer Thomas Cope posted the video to Facebook, where it went viral, and has since issued an apology for his actions. [Facebook]
Instead of letting the animal drown, he could have captured it with a fishing net or an ice chest, or at least contacted state wildlife officials for advice, they said

Florida panthers are endangered and protected. But more are being shot than originally thought.

This X-ray shows a bullet fragment found in a panther that was killed by another panther in Hendry County in February. [Courtesy of Mark Cunningham]
Shootings of Florida's state animal are likely to increase as both the human and panther populations expand, he predicted.

Arrest made days after Tampa man found shot dead in yard

Fabian Hopeton Gray, 37, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [HCSO]
A pair of 911 calls on May 10 led detectives first to the deceased, then another person involved in the shooting. Now an arrest has been made.

Florida Bar opens investigation into Clearwater lawyer who shooed raccoon off his boat

A viral video showing a man shooing a raccoon off a boat ? leading to the animal’s presumed death ? has triggered an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Clearwater lawyer Thomas Cope posted the video to Facebook, where it went viral, and has since issued an apology for his actions. [Facebook]
This is the second investigation of the incident, after the state wildlife commission began looking into the viral video.