News Releases

‘Critical Wildlife Area’ signs go up around Bird Island in Martin County

News Release

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Media contact: Liz Barraco, 850-556-2269; Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459

Last week, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Martin County installed signs around a small island in Martin County, known locally as Bird Island, identifying it as a “Critical Wildlife Area” (CWA). The spoil island, also known as MC2, is an important nesting site for a variety of wading birds and one shorebird species. Bird Island received its CWA designation at the June 2014 Commission meeting.

For protection of these birds, the entire island, its breakwater structure and the waters immediately surrounding are closed to public access throughout the year in order to create a protective buffer. The buffer is marked by the newly installed signs. The FWC and Martin County accomplished this designation with the support of various partners, including the town of Sewall’s Point, city of Stuart and several other stakeholder groups.

Based on the abundance and diversity of birds using the island, biologists consider Bird Island one of the top 10 water-bird colonies in south Florida. The two-acre island provides nesting habitat for at least 17 bird species, eight of which are state or federally listed as species of special concern or threatened, and roosting habitat for many more.

Bird Island is the first critical wildlife area to be established by the Commission in more than 20 years. CWAs are established by the FWC to protect important congregations of one or more species of wildlife from human disturbance during critical life stages. Human disturbance can cause wildlife to abandon high-quality habitat that is necessary for their survival. Currently, there are 19 CWAs throughout Florida, which are managed for nesting and wintering shorebirds, wading birds, gopher tortoises and bats.

Located next to the town of Sewall’s Point, Bird Island is one of seven spoil islands in Martin County created as a result of dredging in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

For more on critical wildlife areas, go to MyFWC.com/Conservation, click on “Terrestrial Programs” then “Critical Wildlife Areas.”



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