Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Authorities issue 59 violations against Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary over animal care

Ralph Heath faces 59 alleged violations concerning the handling of animals at the facility.

Ralph Heath faces 59 alleged violations concerning the handling of animals at the facility.

INDIAN SHORES — Fish and wildlife officials have cited the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary with dozens of violations stemming from the nonprofit organization's handling of animals in its care.

The 59 alleged violations of state and federal regulations go to the heart of the nonprofit's mission, which its website describes as the "rescue, repair and rehabilitation of injured birds and then their release back into nature."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission levied the violations against Ralph Heath, the sanctuary's founder.

When agents arrived April 30 at the sanctuary they found that wildlife were "not cared for properly and were living in squalor, which violates the permit conditions under which the sanctuary operates," wildlife commission investigator Steve DeLacure reported in a statement. "We found animals confined in unsanitary conditions and injured wildlife that had not received proper care, a situation that demanded immediate remedial action."

Wildlife veterinarians called in to assess the situation found 10 birds with extensive injuries, the wildlife commission said. Eight of the birds had to be euthanized.

The violations issued by wildlife commission investigators against Heath included 54 incidences of failing to maintain treatment logs for wildlife under his care; two violations on rehabilitating protected migratory birds in unapproved locations; one violation each for unclean drinking water for its 78 turtles; and failing to meet minimum caging and water requirements for captive wildlife.

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, at 18328 Gulf Blvd., has faced financial problems over the past few years, including Heath's arrest in November on charges of workers' compensation insurance fraud. In 2012, the IRS filed three liens on the property over unpaid taxes. Heath could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (727) 892-2248.

Authorities issue 59 violations against Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary over animal care 05/06/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 9:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs


    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks


    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater


    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]