BRADENTON — A local group has begun to round up collection boxes as its donation drive on behalf of an Indian Shores seabird sanctuary reaches its finale.
The Greater Manatee Chapter of Florida Women in Government hosted the collection drive to help the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and Avian Hospital.
The sanctuary is caring for birds that have already been cleaned and treated elsewhere but need long-term rehabilitation after they were rescued from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, an official said.
So far, 1,901 birds have been collected alive, and 4,080 have been collected dead in states along the northern edge of the Gulf, according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website. Oil from the spill has not fouled any beaches in the Tampa Bay area, including Manatee and Sarasota counties.
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The Manatee group earlier this week began picking up collection boxes and tallying donations in preparation for turning them over to the Tampa Bay-area bird sanctuary, said Kay Chitwood, a Manatee County employee and historian for Women in Government.
The amount of donations was not available Tuesday, she said.
The group placed donation boxes at about a dozen locations, and held a bake sale that raised about $200, Chitwood said.
“It turned out real good,” she said of the breakfast bake sale, which featured items like a hashbrown casserole, deviled eggs and brownies.
The seabird sanctuary’s trained staff has been assisting with bird rescue in Florida’s Panhandle, as well as caring for survivors at its beachside Tampa Bay facility, said Micki Eslick, operations manager.
After the birds were rescued, they were professionally cleaned and treated at a Pensacola primary facility operated by BP’s wildlife contractor, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc., said Heidi Stout, a veterinarian and Tri-State executive director.
Some of the big black-and-white seabirds need long-term rehabilitation, so they were transferred to the seabird sanctuary, Stout said.
During the last two weeks, it has received shipments of 25 gannets, with 16 more delivered Tuesday, Eslick said.
So far, none of the birds has been released back into the wild, but all will be eventually as they heal, she said.
“They certainly have taken on a handful in caring for these birds,” Stout said of the sanctuary’s efforts. “The sanctuary is a very valuable asset and resource for us.”
Meanwhile, money and goods raised in Manatee County will be used to help.
“The money is spent for things we might need for the birds,” said Eslick. “BP is going to pay us, but we have to do the initial outlay.”
The sanctuary is in the process of renovating a pen, and adding a new pool and a saltwater filtration system to accommodate the gannets, Eslick said. The rumpled survivors occupied a cordoned-off area at the sanctuary to protect them from any additional stress.
Some of the in-kind goods that the Manatee group collected based on a “wish list” from the sanctuary, will be going to Pensacola on a truck this week, she said.
If people still want to donate, they can do so directly at the sanctuary’s website at www.seabirdsanctuary.com, where the “wish list” is also posted, said Chitwood.
The oil spill began in April with a fire and explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon well, off the Louisiana coast. More than 200 millions gallons of oil fouled the Gulf before the well was capped on July 15.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.