Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries to celebrate 80-year anniversary on May 8th
Friends and supports of the Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries are invited to an event on May 8th to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Sanctuaries, located in Tampa Bay.
From Ann Paul of Florida Audubon:
On March 31, 1934, Fred Schultz and his wife Idah arrived on Whiskey Stump Key in eastern Hillsborough Bay to begin an era: Fred was the first warden of the Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries, a role he served for 29 years. The year before, Dr. Herbert Raphael Mills, a pathologist working in Tampa and an avid bird-watcher and member of the Florida Audubon Society, had travelled to the “wilderness” of Tampa Bay and found that the wading bird colony at Green Key had been shot out and plundered. He contacted Audubon, the owner of Green Key, and the U.S. Biological Survey, and then personally funded the warden position, hiring Mr. Schultz, a soft-spoken pioneer from the region. He arranged for Mr. Schultz to be a duly appointed U.S. Deputy Game Warden. In his first year of service to the Audubon Society, Warden Schultz posted signs, patrolled Green Key, the Alafia Bank Spoil Islands, and Tampa Harbor spoil islands, conducted regular nesting bird surveys, and intercepted plume hunters interested in Great and Snowy Egret plumes, people wanting young ibis for the 4th of July Curlew Purlew, campers, and other trespassers.
In the 80 years since then, 31 people have served the Sanctuary as biologists, wardens, and managers. The Sanctuary’s region of activity now stretches from Citrus County to northern Charlotte Harbor. Fortunately there is no longer a market for courtship plumes or a demand for young ibis for stew pots, but with a large boating population and extensive development affecting the freshwater wetlands that the waterbirds depend on to raise their young, bird conservation responsibilities and opportunities are broad.
We invite you to share a trip to the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary on May 8. We will see the progeny of the Green Key colony these many generations of birds later. Thousands of ibis, hundreds of spoonbills, herons, egrets, and pelicans will be returning in the evening to the islands where they are nesting.
We look forward to sharing the stories, the accomplishments, the spectacle, and the joy of the celebration with you.
Thank you for your support of the Sanctuary, for being part of the team of staff, volunteers, and donors working in concert to protect the great waterbird populations of Florida.
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