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With Shorebird Nesting Season Underway, FWC Wants Public To Keep Its Distance

A snowy plover on its nest
FWC's Flickr

It’s Nesting season for Florida’s waterbirds. And, Florida wildlife officials say it’s important the public keeps its distance, while on the beach or boating on the state’s waterways.

Keeping the beach clean and not feeding wildlife is important to ensuring the safety of shorebirds, seabirds, and wading birds.

“You know, don’t throw the French fries to the laughing gulls or leave scraps or debris on the beach, any kind of litter, it’s hazardous to wildlife,” said Nancy Douglass, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “But, the food is also problematic because it attracts predators to the beach, things like raccoons, gulls, and crows, and then, they’ll eat the eggs and young as well.”

Other tips include not chasing the birds, forcing them to run or fly. Douglass says not only can it cause some birds to abandon their nests—leaving the eggs vulnerable—but it can also make the birds, resting from a long migration, expend energy they don’t have.

She says while it’s a sensitive issue, FWC officials would also prefer people not bring their pets to the beach because even the most docile dog—for example—may be considered a threat and spook the birds.

“These birds are very, very sensitive to four-legged predators, and they don’t distinguish between say, a fox, a coyote, a raccoon, and a domestic dog,” Douglass added. “So, when we bring our dogs to the beach—even if they’re well-behaved and on a leash—they are very disruptive to these birds.”

She says if someone has to bring their dog to the beach, they’d prefer it if it’s a designated dog beach.

Officials also urge people to politely tell others if they are disturbing nesting birds. But, if the disturbance continues, the FWC should be contacted.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.