Environmental Frequently Asked Questions
What's that big lizard on my seawall? Can someone get rid of it?
It’s either an iguana or a nile monitor. See this page to learn how to tell the difference. ERD has a trapping program for nile monitors; call us at 574-0785 if you have one in or around your yard. We do not trap iguanas – but don’t worry about them, they’re herbivores!
Who do I call to report problems in my canal – trash, dead fish, oil slicks?
For trash: Please feel free to use a net and pick up trash in your canal! For major trash problems, call the Citizens Action Center: 311
If there’s a fish kill, please contact the FWC's Fish Kill Hotline at 1-800-636-0511.
If there’s a large fuel spill or a major, potentially harmful oil slick, call the Citizens Action Center: 311
What causes a fish kill?
A fish kill is a major death event – large amounts of fish and crabs die and wash up on shore. Fish kills in Cape Coral’s canal system are usually caused by low dissolved oxygen. This can happen after an algal bloom – the bacteria that decompose the dead algae use all the oxygen in the water, and without oxygen, fish die. It can also happen when there is a sudden decrease in air temperature. Water at the top of the canal cools rapidly and sinks to the bottom of the canal, thus stirring up the water column. If the water at the bottom of the canal had low oxygen levels, this mixing drastically reduces available oxygen over a wide area.
Red tide can also cause fish kills. Red tide is a bloom of a single-celled diatom called Karenia brevis, and blooms start offshore. K. brevis cannot survive in freshwater. This organism releases a toxin that can cause respiratory irritation (annoying, but not dangerous) in humans and is fatal to fish, crabs, birds, and manatees.
What causes algae blooms in the canals?
A combination of lots of nutrients (in developed areas, this comes from lawn fertilizers!) and plentiful light.
What is the green stuff floating on the top of the water in my canal in the summer?
There are many types of aquatic vegetation we see in our canal at different times of the year. In the hot summer months, a common type in Cape Coral canals is duckweed. Duckweed is a simple aquatic plant, with small floating leaves. When there is plenty of freshwater inputs (such as releases or rain) and high nutrient levels in the canals duckweed can grow quickly and form a dense-looking mat. Although duckweed is unsightly, it is not dangerous to wildlife or people. Residents can help to limit the nutrients in the water by following the City’s fertilizer ordinance. Boaters can also help limit the growth of duckweed by using environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
Who do I call if I see a sick manatee? Or if somebody's harassing a manatee?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: 1-800-404-3922.
Who do I call about a nuisance alligator?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a Nuisance Alligator Hotline 1-866-392-4286. Alligators may be considered a nuisance if they are over 4 feet in length and threaten people, their pets or property. The alligators are trapped and killed, not relocated. It is illegal for a homeowner to capture, kill or relocate a nuisance alligator.
A Burrowing Owl is sitting on my lawn, house, garage, etc. and doesn't move when approached. Is it injured?
Often in the summer and fall what residents are seeing are young owls have that recently left the nests and are on the move. They are searching for a place to live and do this by wandering about a neighborhood or staying in one spot. Because they are young they may not have yet developed a wariness of being approached. It may seem that these owls are not moving but in fact they are hunting at night and returning to the same spot in the daytime. If there are no obvious signs of injury, please give just the young owls space and they will move on it time. If you are interested in keeping these adorable birds in the area, this may be a good time to install a starter burrow in your yard.
What if someone is harassing a burrowing owl, or doing something to a burrowing owl nest?
Call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: 1-888-404-3922 and hit “0” to get an operator.
Who do I call if I find an injured animal?
(239) 472-3644 – this is the number for CROW, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. CROW is located on Sanibel, but several local vets have agreed to provide drop-off points for injured wildlife. If you can’t make it all the way out to Sanibel, you can drop the animal off at one of these vets, and a CROW volunteer will transport it to the clinic.
Can I feed wildlife on my property in Cape Coral?
No, feeding wildlife is never a good idea for several reasons. Human food is not healthy for wild animals, and they do not need food from humans to survive. Each species has specialized diets, and even if they will eat human food they can become malnourished or die if fed the wrong foods. Animals are not able to distinguish food from wrappers or foil and can get sick eating these items. Animals, such as the native Florida Alligator accustomed to people often lose their fear of people and can become aggressive. Those that become aggressive may have to be destroyed to protect people and property. Animals fed by people are often drawn out from areas where they are concealed from predators for unnatural feeding. Which is why birdfeed on the ground can lead to feral cats attacking birds while feeding or feeding rabbits near your home can attract coyotes. Large concentrations of ducks being fed can create water quality issues in our canals. Some waterfowl species drop up to a pound of feces every day.
We recommend that if you want to provide food for wildlife in Cape Coral you plant native trees, shrubs, forbs, flowers, and grasses. These provide a natural healthy source of food for our native wildlife. You can learn more about native landscaping at the City’s Florida Yards and Neighborhoods classes offered year-round at Rotary Park.
There are a lot of weeds in my canal. Who will get rid of them?
Lee County Hyacinth Control District – (239) 694-2174. Aquatic plants can grow extremely rapidly during the dry season when the water is clear, but will die back during the rainy season due to increased turbidity. LCHCD will remove weeds that interfere with boat operations in a canal’s channel, and will spray for hyacinth, but will not remove submerged vegetation if it is merely an aesthetic nuisance.
I want to help the environment. What can I do?
When is my trash pick-up day? What about recycling? Where can I dispose of old paint, oil, or other hazardous waste?