News Releases

Crested caracara shot; mate missing

News Release

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 mate.

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 Alert.

FWC Facts:
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