January 16, 2019

KEY LARGO — With native tropical flora of the Florida Keys being impacted by a growing population and urban development, the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center has begun sponsoring a conservation lecture series, “Wings N’ Things.”

The next presentation will feature guest speaker Lynn Miller, Ph.D., wildlife education director at the South Florida Wildlife Center, which is affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States.

“Dr. Miller travels across the country to lecture at symposiums and conferences, so it is really quite a treat to have her join us down here in the Keys. She takes a look at what may be affecting local environments to help rehabilitate wildlife,” Jordan Budnik, executive director of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center said.

Miller, a certified wildlife rehabilitator, will introduce SFWC and explore how biology guides patient care. She lectures internationally and continues to research the impact of oil spills on birds, especially the northern gannets that migrate south to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

A SWFC newsletter said that while human impact on wildlife remains largely unintentional, cruel and intentional harm to animals may be a byproduct of human population growth. The newsletter detailed in July that it had rescued and rehabilitated a mother raccoon, discovered limping with a baby in tow, that had been shot twice in the leg; a turkey vulture with a fractured left wing and an imbedded pellet; an opossum with a pellet lodged in her spine; and a gray squirrel found dragging his hindquarters, also with a pellet in his spine.

The Keys aren’t impervious to animal cruelty.

In October, an osprey that was allegedly shot with a pellet gun on Aug. 21 by Josiah Fetzer, 22, an employee of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham in Key West, was euthanized. The bird’s broken wing was likely causing systemic problems, according to statements released by the Key West Wildlife Rescue.

Ospreys were until recently a species of special concern in Monroe County, where there is a nonmigratory, resident population.

Miller has previously co-founded Le Nichoir, a Quebec-based nonprofit animal welfare agency dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned wild birds.

Budnik said that aligning conservational resources among peer organization is vital in comprehensively managing restorative efforts.

The Keys are also being adversely affected by water pollution, introduced species, overfishing, seagrass scarring caused by boat props and global climate change.

The National Organization of Atmospheric Administration is scheduled to present at the Feb. 7 “Wings N’ Things” lecture and the Audubon Society is slotted for the March 14 lecture. Presentations are about an hour long.

The “Wings N’ Things” presentation by Miller is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center located, 102050 Overseas Highway in Key Largo. Doors open at 6 p.m. and a $15 donation is being requested.

Center turns 30

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center’s 30th anniversary fundraiser is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Mission Wild Bird Hospital, mile marker 92, bayside.

The wild bird center rescues and rehabilitates about 1,000 wild birds per year and houses 15 large birds that are not releasable.

A $10 donation is being asked. The money is used to defray upkeep costs and the care of the rescued and dormant birds.

To RSVP, contact Budnik at 305-852-4486, ext. 3, or email info@keepthemflying.org.

tjava@keysnews.com