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Nature Center sides with cranes, not sheriff

Editor: We would like to respond to the editorial in the St. Petersburg Times concerning sandhill cranes at Safety Town. We realize editorials are opinion, but generally they are based on fact.

Sheriff Lee Cannon does not own Safety Town. He leases 6 of 216 acres from the Concourse Nature Center. When you build something in a nature center, you have to expect wildlife. The Concourse is strongly opposed to Cannon harassing, removing or destroying these sandhill cranes, our right as the property owner. This does not stop the sheriff. What's next, wiping out all the wildlife?

He does not even bother to harass these cranes on his leased property. He does it on our property. These explosives he is discharging are a serious threat to the Concourse and all surrounding property, as the manufacturer says they are capable of causing fires, even when used properly. Cannon does whatever he pleaseswith no regard for the Concourse, his lease, the law or the potential cost. I guess this is one of the advantages of being sheriff.

His office threatened to arrest two senior citizens for violating a federal law by feeding these cranes. This law does not exist, and if it did, he should start with his own office, since they fed these cranes a long time before anyone else did.

Several months ago, the sheriff tried to have these cranes removed for defecating on the sidewalks. He found out that you can't remove cranes for fouling sidewalks, and suddenly these are attack cranes. The sheriff even asked a state biologist for help. This biologist and the facts disagree with the sheriff's view of these cranes. Sandhill cranes are large, stately, docile birds. They will fight each other over territory and defend themselves from predators, readily, unless the predator is man. It is a real rarity for a crane todefend its mate, young or nest from the ultimate predator, man. There has never been an unprovoked attack by sandhill cranes anywhere in the state. Most sandhill cranes in Florida allow anyone to approach them, because thousands of people feed them daily. Raccoons, alligators, bears and even squirrels repay being fed with aggression. Not sandhill cranes, they repay us with kindness, beauty and song. They may tap on the window or foul the sidewalks but no relationship is perfect. These are the true gentle giants of the bird world.

The Sheriff's Office is supposed to deal in facts and evidence, not hand out punishment for something they think might occur in the future. These cranes have never harassed or threatened anyone. The only person intimidated by these cranes is Cannon, after he tried to have them removed for fouling the sidewalk. This sidewalk is not even on the 6 acres he leases but is our property. This makes us question the sheriff's judgment and integrity, or perhaps it just makes these sandhill cranes a good judge of character.

Janice Jones, President, Board of

Directors, Concourse

Retime lights on U.S. 19

Editor: Re: Traffic lights on U.S. 19.

For years everyone has been complaining about drivers, young and older, of course. There is no simple solution like slower drivers should stay in right lane, commuters in middle, and nut cases in left.

One factor remains. The lights are not user friendly. They do not allow smooth flow of volume because of erratic timing. Perhaps Pasco County Sheriff's Office could check out the situation. It won't eliminate, but it may alleviate some traffic.

Paula Dunne, Hudson

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