[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Group wants pier patrols, pelican protection


Group wants pier patrols, pelican protection

Jun 07, 2012 6:26 PM EDT
By Gaby Fleischman, Collier County Reporter
NBC News

There is a push for 24/7 patrols at the Naples Pier. First a city councilman claimed people's safety is at risk at night. Now, wildlife supporters say the pier's pelicans are in danger.

The Naples Pier is a landmark – usually lined with fishermen like Tom Kuck.

The retired Naples resident fishes at the pier several times a week and has learned to dodge pelicans floating and flying nearby.

"You see them out there and you kind of guide your line away from them," he said.

Kuck says he has accidentally hooked two pelicans and says everyday he sees some get caught and injured.

"They can be a nuisance. A lot of the time they'll fly into your line and get hooked," he said.

To try and protect the pelicans, 130 residents signed this petition asking the city of Naples for pier patrols around the clock.

They also want everyone who fishes here to be licensed - blaming inexperienced and uninformed fisherman for putting the birds at risk.

Because pelicans get hooked so often, there are nets out here that you can drop down into the water to catch the pelicans and unhook them. But the fishermen out there say 24/7 patrols wouldn't help the issue.

Kuck says patrolmen can't keep the pelicans from getting hooked - they can only help set them free safely.

Since there's a daytime patrol officer, Naples Mayor John Sorey says adding night patrols would be a waste of $40,000.

"The only time that the pelicans are an issue is during the day time and we have city staff on the pier during the daytime," he said.

City Councilman Sam Saad says he wants nighttime patrols to protect people - not pelicans. He says when the sun sets, the family-friendly pier gets seedy.

"Drug use and illegal shark fishing and unsupervised children," Saad described.

Kuck says people do illegally fish for sharks after dark and says he even has a solution to settle the issue.

"There's no reason why they can't close pier down with a gate at [midnight]," Kuck said.

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