Bird dispute at Oaks Club

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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.