Bird dispute at Oaks Club

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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 6:09 pm | Updated: 1:12 pm, Wed Jul 31, 2013.

SARASOTA COUNTY - A dispute raging in Osprey has left more than 1,000 birds without homes.  The Oaks Club has begun work to remove an invasive plant growing on a rookery in the community, but residents say with the trees gone the birds will have no where to call home.

"It is a sad day in the Oaks," said Beverly Meadows.

Meadows is expressing her feelings now that the community she lives in is in the process of removing pepper trees and nests of migratory birds from the rookery behind her home.

"Basically they are taking a boat, and they are going straight across to the island and they are chopping it down, and they are using chain saws, from what I can hear.  And then they will be loading the trees and taking them off of the island.  The birds will have no place to nest," added Meadows.

Meadows also says the rookery is the 2nd best in Southwest Florida. and it currently is home to birds from Sarasota, Charlotte and several other counties south of our area.

"Like last night they came back and it was a pitiful sight to see when they were just flying all around and looking for a place to land, and the inside of the island is torn up and they have no nest", said Meadows.

The Oaks Club general manager says their decision to remove 90% of the greenery on one of the two islands that make up the rookery is a compromise between the residents who want the birds and those who don't.

"Our golfers have said there are too many birds there, and they're too smelly, and they don't like it.  Of course they bought the house knowing that the island was there and the rookery was there," said Meadows.

The club also says they plan on replacing the removed trees with plants native to Florida.

But, for Meadows that isn't good enough.  "There is just as many of us who want the birds to stay, but these particular people are big golfers and they have their rights and who the board of governors is listening to and not the rest of us. It makes me feel like a 2nd class citizen."

Right now the work to clear out the center of the island is barely visible, but neighbors say in the next few days all the trees might be cleared out.

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  • oakscyclist posted at 5:56 pm on Thu, Jan 24, 2013.

    oakscyclist Posts: 1

    I've lived in The Oaks for nearly ten years and find this "bird islands area" the only disgusting part of our beautiful 400 home neighborhood. When I walk by, jog, ride my bicycle or even drive by, I have to hold my breath the entire time for fear of breathing in the stench. Seriously, it makes my windpipe constrict like the air in lower manhattan did when I was there post 9-11. And children live nearby these bird infested islands! Additionally, I don't play golf, and I can't imagine what it's like having to sit there for ten minutes breathing in the bird air while three of your friends try to tee off. Between Sarasota and Miami, there are millions of acres in undeveloped land in Myakka, the Everglades national park and dozens more, so these birds can find a new home easily. Thank you Oaks Club for doing the right thing!

  • Lynjupiter posted at 12:18 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Lynjupiter Posts: 1

    The Oaks should not be allowed to use the term "Nature Preserve". They have sinned in the eyes of many nature lovers in Sarasota . I truly hope they pay for it! In terms of reputation and their status in the community. From now on I even saying "The Oaks" will leave a bad taste in my mouth! Shame on them!

  • EagleEye_ posted at 10:57 am on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    EagleEye_ Posts: 1

    This can't be legal at all, has some one contacted the Florida Game Commission and the US Fish and Wildlife Service? There are laws against just this type of thing happening that protect the birds and the habitat. The only way they could do this on an island is if they have a "Permit" issued by the proper government agencies to disturb bird nesting areas and rookeries. I suggest you call the State and Federal agency because they can stop this and hit this club with heavy fines for violating the Federal law which protects "Migratory Bird Act"

  • Fastball Photography posted at 8:32 am on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Fastball Photography Posts: 1

    Depending on what birds are nesting there federal laws could come into play.
    Woodstorks for one have some level of protection due to their status of threatened (not exactly sure of the status classification). Has anyone contacted the FWC on this yet?
    The timing to do this during nesting season seems to be poor, Doing this in summer AFTER nesting season would be safer to the birds. It sounds like removing the plants (probably those pepper plants?) is being used as a cover to remove the birds. I agree there is a smell associated with a rookery, and it sounds like golfers don't like the smell and they are a revenue source. I wonder what federal, state fines are associated with this if in fact any protected birds are being disturbed?

  • Eve3v3 posted at 8:58 pm on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    Eve3v3 Posts: 1

    I live in the Oaks. I do NOT play golf. Bev Meadows does NOT speak for most of us. I do not live near the rookery, so I am not directly affected by the situation, but I have a concern for my neighbors that do. I AM a registered nurse. There is a serious health hazard brewing on those islands. The fecal matter and spores from those birds is at a level so high, that neighbors with young children and elderly with compromised lung/health issues are being told it is dangerous to be outside if they live near the rookeries. Our neighborhood Board has consulted with the Audobon Society and other environmental groups before proceeding with the tree trimming that has begun. Only one island is being trimmed at this point to allow the birds to find other trees to nest in. We are not killing birds. These are not the last trees in Florida for a bird to nest in. In my opinion, Bev Meadows is irresponsible in her characterization of the situation.


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