Refuge to install regulatory buoys to protect rookery islands
On Dec. 15, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge notified the public about resource management changes for the waters of Tarpon Bay. The refuge is establishing a no entry area around the Tarpon Bay Keys, the small islands approximately in the center of the bay.
The waters, submerged lands and Tarpon Bay Keys are owned by the state, but are managed by the refuge through a cooperative lease agreement that was finalized in 1995. As a condition of the agreement, it was identified as a management priority to establish a “No Entry Zone” perimeter for the Tarpon Bay Keys. The action is intended to protect and preserve the islands for use as roosting and rookery sites for colonial water birds. Monitoring of the islands by station biologists has revealed a significant reduction in usage of the sites by the birds over the last two decades.
To accomplish the management objective, the refuge will install 12 regulatory buoys to create a continuous and enforceable 150-foot buffer surrounding the rookery islands. Installation was scheduled to begin during the third week of December, with completion in three to four days. Enforcement of the closed area will be accomplished by United States Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement personnel and cooperating agencies. The refuge is asking the public to respect the boundaries and for their cooperation in assisting it in preserving and protecting these important and unique habitats.
For questions or more information, call 239-472-1100 or check the refuge’s official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dingdarlingrefuge.