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FWC Mandates Death Sentence for Baby Sea Turtles in Broward County, FL
In the first few minutes of an endangered baby sea turtle's life, it faces many perils. Here, a majority of sea turtle babies disorient due to artificial light pollution. Upon hatching, they are instinctively drawn away from the ocean, their natural home. Confusing artificial light for the moon and stars, they end up in our streets, our sewers, and our parking lots, or they dehydrate on the beach and die. Our hearts are broken, because now we will have to risk legal action to save their lives. Under no circumstances should they die due to the inappropriate actions of the FWC, the agency entrusted with protecting them under the Endangered Species Act (ESA 1973).
With blatant disregard for these innocent babies' lives and the future survival of the species, FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) has, without prior notice, just as the 2021 sea turtle nesting season commences, effectively gutted S.T.O.P. by reducing the number of permits to just 2, thereby reducing volunteer rescue patrols from 121 to 48. They also plan on completely eliminating nighttime patrols over the next few years. Isn't it FWC's responsibility to protect, not abuse the rights of these endangered species? They know these baby turtles will die. Please sign our petition and contact FWC. Click here to tell them to reinstate all 5 of our rescue permits to full capacity.
S.T.O.P., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has been the largest permit holder in the state, operating under FWC guidelines since 2007 and rescuing and releasing over 260,000 hatchlings to date. In 2019, S.T.O.P.’s 121 trained volunteers spent thousands of hours patrolling Broward County’s approximately 24 miles of beaches from dusk till dawn, rescuing 23,367 hatchlings from certain death. Even more egregious, FWC has taken this action without announcing alternative measures to ensure the survival of these endangered species. While lighting ordinances have been adopted by all coastal municipalities in the County, compliance is inconsistent and enforcement is almost non-existent. Despite S.T.O.P.‘s 14 years of documenting offending hotels, condos, houses, restaurants, and shops, FWC has failed to pressure municipalities to enforce existing lighting codes.
Without sufficient S.T.O.P. staff monitoring the thousands of nests at night, each season tens of thousands of hatchlings will disorient and perish, diminishing the future survival of the endangered species.
FWC has further impacted S.T.O.P.’s ability to continue their mission by reducing the duration of the educational permits used to conduct “Turtle Treks of Terramar” from 4 to 2 months. This leaves fewer opportunities to educate and inspire the general public to conserve these endangered animals. Additionally, the Treks have been a source of funding the rescue operations; a further blow to the organization.
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