Rookery Island in Venice experiencing plant die-off

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VENICE, Fla. -- "Full of vegetation, full of life. It was totally green, birds coming in and out all the time."

Venice resident Bob Fuqua describes how this island, which is referred to as a Rookery Island by residents, used to look a week ago.

Now, most of the island is covered in a reddish-brown tint which signifies dying vegetation.

"I suspect as the vegetation dies away, the birds will be coming less and less frequently, and will no longer be a suitable habitat for them," Fuqua said.

Executive Director of the Wildlife Center of Venice, Kevin Barton, spoke to some of these residents—and had one thing in mind when inspecting the vegetation.

"I’m not positive,” Barton speculated, “but I would suspect some type of herbicide because of the quick degradation."

Fuqua suspects the same.

"The other vegetation in the area seems as it was, but then this one is dying off quickly,” Fuqua explained.

“I don't know of any natural causes that would cause that. I would suspect herbicides. I just don't know anything else that it might be."

Barton also referenced another concern if it is indeed a type of herbicide: "All of these habitats are linked hydraulically to the Myakka River; and because that is a major wildlife corridor and a lot of water runoff finds its way through this path, I think these are all legitimate concerns."

We also contacted Neal Communities, the owners of the property. They have not made a formal response as of yet.