Crested caracara shot; mate missing
Friday, August 26, 2011
Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-227-3830
The crested caracara is a state and
federally protected bird of prey. A pair of the rare birds have
been living and breeding undisturbed for the last four years in the
Myakka City area - until now. The Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service are conducting a joint investigation and looking for
information about the shooting of the male caracara and its missing
On Aug. 12, a concerned citizen called
the nonprofit Save Our Seabirds in Sarasota to report that one of
the caracaras had been shot. Lee Fox, a permitted wildlife
rehabilitator and owner of Save Our Seabirds, retrieved the wounded
bird and contacted the FWC to report the incident.
The male caracara is recovering well,
but rehabilitators say the broken wing bones sustained as a result
of the shooting make its release back into the wild and reunion
with its monogamous mate impossible. The pair had successfully
nested near Myakka City for the past four seasons.
The female caracara, identifiable by
her double leg bands, was part of a study conducted by Dr. James
Dwyer from Virginia Tech.
Caracaras are listed federally as a
threatened species. The colorful birds are common to Central and
South America, but in the United States they occur only in open
prairie areas of central and southern Florida and parts of Texas
and Arizona. Caracaras eat carrion and small vertebrates. The
caracara is the national bird of Mexico.
Anyone having information about the
shooting of the caracara is urged to call the Wildlife Alert
Hotline at 888-404-3922. Those reporting violations to Wildlife
Alert may remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward their call
leads to an arrest.
For more information about the Wildlife
Alert program, visit MyFWC.com/Wildlife