Seabird sanctuary founder cited for wildlife care violations

Pinellas County, Florida -- Ralph Heath, the founder of the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores, was cited for 59 violations of the state's Wildlife Code.

The citations reportedly come after public complaints to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that the sanctuary was not in compliance with state and federal regulations. When the FWC inspected the facility on April 30, it said it found animals in unsanitary conditions and found injured wildlife that had not received proper care.

Wildlife veterinarians were called in to assess the condition of 10 birds with extensive injuries. Eight of them had to be humanely euthanized, according to the FWC.

FWC investigators cited Heath for:

  • 54 violations related to failure to maintain individual daily treatment logs for wildlife being rehabilitated under his care.
  • Two violations for rehabilitation of protected migratory birds at an unapproved location.
  • One violation of failure to provide clean drinking water on a daily basis to 78 turtles housed in a single pool in unsanitary conditions, located in an off-site warehouse.
  • One violation of failure to meet minimum standard caging and water requirements for captive wildlife.

The FWC says the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary has been issued multiple warnings for similar issues during previous inspections.


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