Last year the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) launched a new campaign to prevent seabird entanglement in fishing line. The campaign, called “Don’t Cut the Line!” has the following goals:
1. Prevent congregation of seabirds in fishing areas by avoiding feeding them
2. Promote best fishing practices to avoid hooking seabirds
3. Educate anglers on how to unhook a bird to prevent entanglement
The campaign includes a website, vinyl stickers for tackle boxes with the campaign logo (shown here), and signs and outreach materials for distribution at piers and other popular fishing spots.
The website, www.MyFWC.com/unhook, provides step-by-step instructions for unhooking a seabird, along with a demonstration video, and tips to prevent seabird entanglement.
New additions for 2017 include development of a smartphone application that helps users find a local rehabilitator for injured seabirds (soon to be released), incorporation of campaign messages into Kids’ Saltwater Fishing Clinics and FWC Law Enforcement Officer training, articles in key fishing media, and data collection to determine how well the campaign is working.
We are excited to have all these tools available to our stakeholders and hope that they will be useful to anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. As Florida Shorebird Alliance partners, you can help by distributing outreach materials and educating anglers on how to prevent seabird entanglement. Please use the contact information below to request materials.
The FWC’s Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP) is also being revitalized as part of this initiative, and organizers are asking Florida Shorebird Alliance partners to notify FWC if they see any monofilament recycling bins that have not been properly emptied for some time.
If you encounter an injured bird while surveying on the beach this summer, please contact your local FWC-licensed rehabilitator. If you find dead birds, do not handle them. They can be reported to the wild bird mortality database. If the bird died from entanglement, please be sure to choose that option in the "Cause of Death" section.
Also, please remember to report injured/dead sea turtles and marine mammals by calling FWC's Wildlife Alert Toll-Free Number 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922) or for cellular phone customers: *FWC or #FWC.
Our sea turtle and marine mammal stranding networks depend on observer reports to reduce mortality of injured animals and collect/perform necropsies on dead animals to collect important data for those species.
Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
What is the exact location of the animal?
Is the animal alive or dead?
How long have you been observing the animal?
What is the species and approximate size of the animal?
If sea turtle, is it marked with spray paint?) (This may indicate that the turtle has been previously documented.)
What is the location of the public boat ramp/access point closest to the animal?
Can you provide a contact number where you can be reached for further information?
If the animal is alive, please be prepared to stay with it until help arrives. If the animal is dead, please take multiple pictures in case the animal cannot be found on a follow-up.
The Florida Shorebird Database (FSD) is open and ready for your 2017 monitoring data! Please survey your routes and rooftops during the five remaining count windows (weekly monitoring is preferred in areas with active nests). Then enter your monitoring data on the FSD website.
Returning monitors: please log in using your username and password from last year. If you're unable to access your account, contact us to reset your account. Please do not create a new account. Routes and rooftops from previous years will automatically appear but sites and site visits will not. You can also update your account details after logging in under the Account Info tab.
The Resources page of the FSD website now has the 2017 training webinars. You can also download the breeding bird protocol, datasheets, and view the count window dates.
"Garbage dump oystercatchers got me hooked!" - Kat Harris
The Florida Shorebird Alliance (FSA) bids a fond farewell to Kat Harris, the Southwest Regional Shorebird Biologist. Kat served in her role for two years, helping establish a solid foundation for the next growth phase of the Alliance. She was an integral member of the Collier, Lee, and Suncoast shorebird partnerships and will be missed by her fellow shorebird enthusiasts. As a parting gift, we asked Kat to share some reflections on her time in the FSA. In her own words…
How long have you been the Southwest regional biologist?
I started in April 2015 and at that time I had a statewide scope. Thankfully the position narrowed to the Southwest region and I’ve been focusing on conservation efforts here.
When did you first fall in love with shorebirds and seabirds?
I've always been in love with the coast. As a teen I wanted to be a marine biologist but went to school for wildlife and fisheries science instead. I started working with waterfowl then took a summer job in New York City doing bird surveys at reclaimed landfills. Every day I recorded all birds detected, and I found a pair of American Oystercatchers nesting along the road. I tracked them daily and have loved shorebirds ever since. You could say that a pair of garbage dump American Oystercatchers got me hooked. Shorebirds and seabirds are so resilient.
As one partner of the FSA, what has made you feel accomplished?
Getting to know and collaborate with all of the amazing people that work in the shorebird conservation field. I joined a group of people doing hard work and I got to contribute. I enjoyed helping new people get involved and influencing others to do more to protect the birds.
I also enjoyed giving technical advice on habitat creation projects. From small projects at local marinas to large spoil island creation at Lake Okeechobee, it’s been good to influence project designs.
Finally, I am excited to write a manuscript recording the first state record of Snowy Plovers nesting inland. Two pairs of plovers nested at Vulcan Materials Inc. rock quarry last year. Its sixteen miles from the coast! The employees at Vulcan enthusiastically went above and beyond to protect the birds. They changed their work plans and had someone monitor the area where the birds were nesting. We don’t know the final outcome of the nests because they left the nest site to forage in better areas.
What has been the greatest challenge?
Shorebird conservation, like many efforts, requires extensive cooperation and communication. It can be challenging to maintain a high level of coordination and navigate considerable red tape at the same time. But at the end of the day it’s worth it to see birds fledge each year.
If you could wave a magic wand and make any positive contribution to shorebird conservation, what would it be?
If I could wave a wand, no one would be able to develop within a mile of the coast line. It would protect people and wildlife. Also, I would instill into everybody, a great appreciation and respect for shorebirds and other wildlife. Just having the knowledge and appreciation for these birds would solve so many problems.
What parting words of wisdom do you offer your local network of shorebird partners?
Continue the great work you're doing! Keep an open positive mind. It can be easy to lose hope but remember we are working together to conserve these birds and their habitats and we can do more together than on our own. And Thank You for two fantastic years!
And THANK YOU, Kat, for all you've done for shorebirds and seabirds in Florida!
The Florida Shorebird Alliance (FSA) is a partnership of agencies, non-government organizations, and individuals committed to shorebird and seabird conservation in Florida. FSA partners coordinate their independent work and collaborate to address research, management, education, outreach, and public policy needs.