Plan to plow bird rookery has some peeved

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Bird lovers say it's one of the largest bird rookeries in the area. They're upset with a plan to remove the trees the birds nest in at the Oaks Club in Osprey. Board members for the club say they have the permits and the trees which need to go are invasive.

Jurgen Ladendorf is a birder who happens to call the Oaks Club home. "It is very peaceful. That is why we came here."

"Dr. L" as he sometimes goes by is also one of a growing number upset with a plan to remove the trees from a man made island along the club's golf course. "The board of directors claim they need to remove the pepper trees because it is an invasive species."

He says the real reason is to get rid of the hundreds of birds who live in them. The island is one of Sarasota County's largest nesting spots. "There is no reason for the pepper trees to be removed."

While some say they enjoy the nature a few neighbors have complained about the noise and smell. The club has already obtained the necessary permits and can remove 90% of what is growing on the island as soon as the last of the nests are no longer active for the season. "The birds have no home when they return."

The club's general manager telling us over the phone Wednesday that they have compromised and currently have no plans to clear a second island right next to the one in question. They also plan to replace the plants with native Florida species. Ladendorf says "It would take years for Florida trees to grow."

He and other neighbors have banded together to protest and say local Audubon societies, and other bird groups are recommending a slower approach. "Phase the destruction of the trees over two or three years so that there is not this massive total demolition is one fell swoop."

Legally the club is under no obligation. Dr.L is hoping they will still reconsider. "The wildlife belongs to everyone. Not just the club members who have paid their dues."

Residents we talked to say they're concerned the work will happen within the next week. That's because the permit expires at the end of the year. The club's manager says they'll likely have to ask for an extension on the permit to remove the nests after the first of the year because some of them are still active.