Dozens of birds are shot to death


Published: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 10, 2003 at 10:16 p.m.
PALATKA - Dozens of wading birds were found shot and killed Tuesday in Putnam County in what wildlife officials are calling an example of deplorable behavior.
Cattle egrets, snowy egrets, little blue herons, great blue herons and white ibis were found on the barge canal east of Rodman Reservoir and west of Highway 19 in southern Putnam County.
All of the birds had been recently shot, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The dead birds were brought to the University of Florida, where necropsies determined the birds had been shot.
One tricolored heron survived and is being cared for at the Silver Springs Nature Park's wildlife center.
The dead birds are classified as protected birds and it is illegal to hunt them, according to Joy Hill, commission spokeswoman.
The birds are protected because they are in danger of becoming a threatened species if their habitat keeps eroding, Hill said.
But those who shot the birds were not trying to hunt, she said.
"It's hard to say what goes through people's minds when they do something like this," Hill said. "These were not hunters. This type of behavior would incense a legal hunter. This type of behavior is unethical and deplorable."
Investigators found a large pile of shotgun shells and boxes near the dead birds, as well as a tire track, a boot print and other evidence.
The crime is a misdemeanor, but violators could face fines and jail time if convicted.
Anyone with information is asked to call the commission toll-free, 24-hour hot line at (888) 404-3922. Callers may remain anonymous, and the agency is offering an $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of whoever is responsible for the shooting.
Kathy Ciotola can be reached at 338-3109 or ciotolk@ gvillesun.com.

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