Suncoast road is a sandhill crane danger zone

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SARASOTA - The Suncoast has long been considered a haven for birds of all types.  But during season, thousands can be spotted walking along area roadways, where a distracted driver could be the difference between life and death for many of those exotic species.

Some believe one area of Palmer Ranch in particular, McIntosh Road just south of Central Sarasota Parkway, is not safe for wildlife.

"My understanding is that someone was texting while driving when they hit the animal," said Kevin Barton with the Wildlife Center of Venice.

The animal he's referring to was a mother sandhill crane crossing the road with her baby.  And, just days before that, on the same stretch of roadway, Barton say the chick's father was also hit and killed.  "She was orphaned by a car accident. The number one and two issues that happen to cranes are cars and golf balls, and we ended up with her after she was orphaned."

The baby crane is just 3 weeks old.  And, while they haven't named her yet, officials have placed her with another crane who is rehabbing at the facility.  "We had one that is recovering from a golf ball wound that is actually acting as the surrogate mother for the crane.  Its made for an easy rehabilitation job because she is taking over most of the critical work," said Barton.

And as the chick peeks out from behind its new mom, Barton doesn't want the positive ending of this situation to distract from the need to decrease the danger level on McIntosh and other roadways.

"What we want is people to drive slow, especially where they know the animals are," said Barton.

In addition there is talk about putting up signs to alert drivers that the birds tend to frequent the area.  "If there is an area where a crane walks often I would love to see that kind of awareness brought to them.  Make people think twice when they might have not otherwise" added Barton.

Officials are hoping as they get the word out more people will support the initiative to get signs in the area.