Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Shooting of osprey brings investigation, offer of reward

“They just shot it cold-blooded,” Robert Scholl of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says of the osprey. A reward is being offered to help find the person who killed it.

Courtesy of Barb Walker

“They just shot it cold-blooded,” Robert Scholl of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says of the osprey. A reward is being offered to help find the person who killed it.

PALM HARBOR — One day into the investigation of a gruesome osprey death in a Palm Harbor neighborhood, state wildlife officials say they're following several "strong" leads.

"We definitely have some individuals in mind that we're going to talk to," said Robert Scholl, an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We will get to the bottom of this. I promise that."

The adult male bird, which was found Tuesday morning on a sidewalk near 2539 Shoreline Circle in the Cobb's Landing neighborhood, was taken to Busch Gardens, where a veterinary X-ray revealed metal fragments lodged in its body, officials said. Investigators are trying to determine how the bird died, but the fragments indicate it was shot.

Scholl called it the worst wildlife killing he's ever seen.

"It was like someone murdered the bird. It was one of those crime scenes," he said. "They just shot it cold-blooded."

Both federal and state laws prohibit the killing of ospreys. Doing so can result in hefty fines and possible jail time.

Scholl said his agency is working with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and other local law enforcement. He declined to be specific, but said leads so far indicate that the alleged shooter is a "habitual offender" with a criminal past in Pinellas County.

Donations helped the Clearwater Audubon Society increase its reward to $720 for information leading to an arrest of anyone responsible for killing the bird. Scholl said wildlife officials plan to offer additional reward money.

Audubon board member Barb Walker said the osprey's death is one of a recent spate of bird killings in north Pinellas County.

Just two weeks ago, Walker said, blow darts and dart guns were used to shoot Muscovy ducks, which are unprotected, and common gallinules, a protected species, just feet away from a bald eagle's nest at Virginia Street and Oakwood Drive in Dunedin.

Then 10 baby ducks, likely mallard hybrids, went missing Monday from a pond at Eternal Rest Memories Park and Funeral Home on Belcher Road in Dunedin. No carcasses were found and the mom and dad ducks were fine, but a BB gun was found on the grounds.

"No one knows exactly what happened, but we have an idea," Walker said.

Across the country, she said, there have been reports of birds being attacked with nail guns and paint guns.

Dunedin officials last week preliminarily approved a ban of BB guns on all public property in response to complaints that a group of teens shot and killed two Musocvy ducks in Lake Paloma with a pellet gun for dinner in November. Residents said they feared for the safety of other wildlife and nearby homes. Several city commissioners added that they were worried about the implications of hunting within city limits.

In light of the recent killings, Walker is urging Dunedin to include other types of properties in the ban, like private cemeteries or conservation easements, as well as a larger array of weapons than BB guns.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to


reward fund

To pledge money to the Clearwater Audubon Society reward fund, contact board member Barb Walker at or (727) 798-2385.

Shooting of osprey brings investigation, offer of reward 04/25/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 7:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears


    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  5. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings