As the 4th of July holiday approaches, Florida wildlife officials along with environmental groups want to remind beachgoers to do their part in protecting the state’s nesting shorebirds.
Audubon Florida’s Julie Wraithmell says many people are unaware of what they’re doing to coastal birds—like the black skimmer and the snowy plover—when setting off their own personal fireworks.
“The real shame of it is it’s simply a lack of knowing,” she said. “I don’t think most beachgoers wake up in the morning and say, ‘you know what? I’m going to go out and destroy one of Florida’s natural treasures. You know, they just don’t realize the birds are nesting on our beaches.
So, she says some tips to remember to protect these nesting birds includes leaving fireworks at home.
“You can imagine the reaction of these birds to fireworks,” added Wraithmell. “The adults leave the chicks and eggs, they’re vulnerable to predators, and the chicks scatter and can get lost and die. We’ve seen entire colonies fail over the Fourth of July weekend.”
Other tips provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission also include teaching kids not to chase the birds, never intentionally forcing the birds to fly or run, or respecting posted shorebird nesting areas.
“And, we’d also like to ask people to stay away from the roped off areas, and just give the birds a distance so they feel comfortable and you don’t flush them and cause them get nervous and they move around,” said Amy Clifton, a species conservation biologist with the FWC. “So, just be respectful of the distance you have with the birds.”
For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.