Former volunteers and even it's founder have raised concerns about Save Our Seabirds cutting back on the number of birds it helps. That has other local rescue groups worried they could soon get a bigger workload.
Kevin Barton with the Wildlife Center of Venice says area rescue groups want Save Our Seabirds to succeed. "To have a place that is established and is a icon in a community I think everyone on both sides of the board want it to survive."
Barton says his organization currently takes in about 4,000 animals per year. Right now rescue groups up and down the coast are no more than an hour apart. He says if one goes away they'll feel it. "When the Pelican Man fell years ago it was a very big struggle for us the Manatee organizations to basically try our best to fill the void."
There is a concern that S.O.S. may be looking to cut back on how many animals they take in. Perhaps focusing more on education and research. Their founder who was recently fired has reportedly said the organizations board stopped workers from going out and rescuing birds for months and limiting rehab of those brought in. Barton says the animals have to come first. "The broken and the sick that come to our door should always be responded to first. When we are able to handle all of that then it makes sense to branch out into other areas that help wildlife."
New director for S.O.S. David Pilston has said the numbers coming in for them has not significantly decreased. In a recent interview with ABC 7 he did say more are being put down. "Our permits are very specific and very strict about what kinds of birds we can keep and what kinds of birds we can't keep and how long we can keep them. Unfortunately, those permits may not have been followed in the past but they are now."
Barton says if it does turn out their services are needed more they will do as much as they can to step up. "I want people to be reassured that no matter what we are very dedicated to making sure that our areas sick, injured, or orphaned are always cared for. We will make sure we put every asset toward that goal."
In a press release Friday S.O.S. saying they have passed a surprise inspection with flying colors. This week Sarasota city leaders heard a number of concerns from former workers there including issues with rats and the overall direction of the organization. On July 3rd, the organizations says Florida Fish & Wildlife officials showed up unannounced and found the facility in overall good condition with all pools clean, adequate perching and enclosures safe for the birds.