Bird-Shooting Chargess, Environmentalists Lay Out Right Case for Prosecution


Kudos to a trio of environmental protectors for putting into words our feelings about a notorious bird-shooting incident in February 2009 off Goodland.

After the Southwest Florida State Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges because the vicinity lacked clear public notice signs, a federal grand jury has stepped in to indict five of the seven young adults originally charged with shooting at least 21 birds of protected species.

Eric Draper of Audubon of Florida, Ed Carlson of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Brad Cornell of Collier County Audubon Society say in a letter to the editor that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission deserve credit for the follow-up investigation that led to the indictment against the five, including four Navy officers in training.

“Audubon strongly concurs with the enforcement action taken, as it sends the clear message that such wanton killing of protected wildlife will not be tolerated. We hope that any convictions and punishment will result in this lesson being learned by those who aspire to lead our national defenses as well as by the general public and will not result in bitter resentment over just a bunch of birds,” their joint statement says.

“Audubon started working in Florida more than 100 years ago to protect the threatened wading birds from slaughter by plume hunters. Today, there are many more threats to the health of Florida’s bird populations, and it is in everyone’s best interest to respect and protect them.”

The case is not and never was about revenge against the alleged shooters. It is and always has been about protection of wildlife and community standards.

Next stop — federal court, where all sides can be heard in full.

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