Shorebird nesting site vandalized, community response swift
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-648-3200
A well-marked shorebird nesting site
on Ft. Myers Beach was vandalized during the early morning of June
28. Community leaders, local landowners and wildlife volunteers are
Calls to the Wildlife Alert Hotline at
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC)
dispatch center in Tampa indicated the markers and signs were
ripped out and some nest destruction occurred on the protected
portion of the beach, just west of the Carlos Pointe
"One least tern nest was lost due to
the vandalism and 50 wooden stakes, hundreds of yards of twine,
attached flagging tape and signs marking the shorebird nesting site
were uprooted. It is very fortunate that the colony did not abandon
the site entirely," said FWC wildlife biologist Brie Ochoa.
Because many of Florida's shorebird
species are listed as threatened or endangered, the nesting area
was posted by the state. It is a violation of state and federal
laws to harass or take any endangered or threatened birds, their
eggs or young.
Shorebirds such as least terns and snowy plovers lay their
well-camouflaged eggs directly on the sand, making them nearly
invisible to predators and to the untrained human eye. Any
disturbance by people, pets or vehicles - accidental or otherwise -
can cause these birds to abandon their nests, resulting in
unhatched eggs and the death of young chicks.
The town of Ft. Myers Beach has
replaced the signs, stakes and twine, and the FWC's Division of Law
Enforcement is investigating the incident. Maintenance of the
posted area, monitoring of the birds and outreach to visitors is
accomplished by a local network of partners, including the town of
Ft. Myers Beach and Audubon Society volunteers.
"The community supports the protection
of these birds, and they are interested in seeing them thrive.
Several organizations have partnered together to organize the bird
steward program, which is supported by volunteers and expanding
each year," said Ochoa.
Anyone having information about this
incident is encouraged to call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at
888-404-3922. Citizens may remain anonymous and may be eligible for
a reward if their information leads to an arrest.