Protected Black Skimmer birds killed on St. Pete Beach by fireworks placed in nest

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Fireworks placed into a protected bird nesting zone kills hundreds of unborn birds on St. Pete beach.

Hundreds of people stay on beachfront hotels but when one visitor realized what was happening to animals just outside their room, they were furious and called police.

“These are black skimmers, they’re nesting right now. They nest on St. Pete beach every season,” said Abigail Gibson with Audubon Florida.

Gibson said every year from May to September 500 Black Skimmers birds call St. Pete beach home, but not all are rolling out the welcome mat with two incidents reported to Florida Fish and Wildlife in the past two weeks.

“We noticed all the roping was down. All the educational signs, ropes, posting signs – that’s to keep people out not to keep the birds in. All that was taken down leaving them more vulnerable to being flushed, flying off their eggs,” Gibson added. “Some fireworks were set off in the middle of the colony and someone ran through them as well.”

Becky Lutz heard the fireworks going off from her hotel room late Wednesday night but didn’t know why until now.

“I think it’s awful. It’s marked off, roped off, when you read it they’re almost endangered so why would you do that?” Lutz said. “There’s enough cruelty in the world. We don’t need to harm these innocent birds!”

Gibson says the Black Skimmer birds are state and federally protected. She says the birds lay their eggs on top of the sand so they stay in a colony to ward off predators. But when the birds are scared off it leaves the soon-to-be hatchlings as easy prey for crows, seagulls, and dogs.

“It is sad, it’s hard to see eggs being taken. It’s hard to see when they’re fleshed off like that their eggs are totally exposed,” Gibson said.

She say you can help by staying 100 feet from their nest and picking up your trash when you visit the beach so predators aren’t attracted to the sand and has this message for anyone considering coming back to do more damage.

“Learn more about the birds, realize what a treat it is to have a threatened species nesting in your backyard,” Gibson said.

There are currently three Black Skimmer nests in Pinellas County, she said they’re on St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Point, and Redington Shores.

Florida Fish and Wildlife is investigating both incidents, they said if you see something, say something. Wildlife violations can be called in directly to FWC with the Wildlife Alert Hotline: 1-800-404-3922

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