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Shorebirds Killed in Posted Area

TALLAHASSEE -- Even though the nesting areas were clearly posted, a number of imperiled shorebird chicks were killed at protected sites on Marco Island beaches over the July 4th holiday weekend. Tracks in the sand indicate an unleashed dog likely killed black skimmer chicks in the posted Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) of Sand Dollar Beach, where dogs are prohibited.

Black skimmers are listed in Florida as a species of special concern. Their population is declining, largely the result of development along Florida's coastline.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds the public that shorebird nesting areas are protected and that disturbing the nests, eggs or chicks is illegal.

"Shorebirds lay well-camouflaged eggs directly on the sand, making them nearly invisible to the untrained human eye," said FWC biologist Lindsay Nester. "Any disturbance by people, pets or vehicles - accidental or otherwise - can lead to death of young chicks."

It is a violation of state and federal laws to harass or take any protected birds, their eggs or young. Pet owners are responsible for ensuring their pets do not enter posted areas.

"The welfare of these nesting animals is largely dependent upon a sense of community stewardship and responsibility," said Nancy Richie, Environmental Specialist with the city of Marco Island. "An incident like this is a blow to the declining population of black skimmers and to the members of the local volunteer organizations who work hard to help post and monitor shorebird nesting sites around the state."

Citizens are encouraged to report violations to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. Those reporting violations may remain anonymous.


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