21 Protected Birds Shot to Death
Update: Pointing to evidence issues, the State Attorney’s office announced in May 2009 that they will not be pursuing charges against the seven who were arrested in February. Citizens are encouraged to contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, praising their noteworthy efforts to date and encouraging their continued determination.
(Collier County, Fla.) On February 17, 2009, Officer Dan Stermen of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) heard gunshots coming from a known nesting area for birds. He and Lt. Wayne Maahs observed people shooting birds who were flying home to roost. The officers actually witnessed birds falling to the ground. They arrested seven people, initially charging four with misdemeanor trespassing and charging three with felony trespassing with a firearm. They confiscated rifles, shotguns and pistols, and collected the bodies of 21 dead birds, who are protected by federal law and/or protected in Florida as “species of special concern,” including white ibises, blue herons, a tri-colored heron and a snowy egret. According to an FWC spokesperson, “One of the lieutenants involved in this said that in his 27 years in the job, he had never seen such callous treatment of wildlife. These people were just firing for fun.”
U.S. Navy officials identified four of the seven suspects as recent graduates of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. who are currently enrolled at the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Fla. The suspects are Joseph William Gursky, Mark Lewis McClure, Cullen Mark Shaughnessy, and Alexander Bruce Wilhelm. The Navy is conducting an internal investigation into their involvement in the bird shootings. The other three suspects are Keith G. Lisa, Zachary James Mato, and Stephanie Marie Meads. Besides the trespassing charges, State and Federal charges are pending against all seven suspects.
Here is a news story, including photos and video, about this incident:
Men accused of killing wading birds were Navy officers in training
Naples Daily News, February 21, 2009
Please contact the FWC to thank Officer Dan Stermen and Lt. Wayne Maah for their work in conducting the investigation into this shocking massacre of wildlife. Polite letters may be written to the Navy to secure an end to the four naval officers’ careers. They need to turn in their uniforms and commissions because, based on these allegations, their conduct demonstrates that they are unfit and wholly unworthy of the uniform.
You may praise the investigative work of Officer Dan Stermen and Lt. Wayne Maah here:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Community Relations Office
Farris Bryant Building
620 S. Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Or use the FWC comment form at:
You may mail polite letters asking the Navy to discharge the officers named above here or use our automated form below:
Captain William P. Reavey, Jr.
Naval Air Station Pensacola
190 Radford Blvd.
Pensacola, FL 32508-5217
Or use the general email for the Naval Air Station Pensacola:
Click here for letter writing tips.