News Releases

Shorebird nesting site vandalized, community response swift

News Release

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 upset.

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 Condominiums.

"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.

FWC Facts:
Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center volunteers help with large events, oversee weekend programs or assist by sharing their knowledge of how to enjoy outdoor activities.

Learn More at AskFWC