ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- Investigators are asking for the public's help in finding the couple believed responsible for killing two black skimmer chicks and damaging five loggerhead sea turtle nests while driving a high-powered vehicle on the beach at Anna Maria Island last weekend.
At about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the pillagers hit the birds near the city line between Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach and then between 30th and 27th streets in Holmes Beach ran over five protected turtle nests, designated by stakes. A third black skimmer chick that was injured died Tuesday morning.
Witnesses to the incident said there was a couple in the vehicle which was aiming for nests while laughing. The stakes marking the nests could be heard as they were crushed by the vehicle. The people on the beach at the time made failed attempts at yelling at the couple to stop.
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Protection has since attempted to mark as best they can where they believe the nests were, according to Suzi Fox, executive director of the group. She asks that people take extra care from 30th Street down to 27th Street in Holmes Beach.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission is leading the investigation in conjunction with the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments.
FWC said it would not release any additional information about the case, according to spokesman Gary Morse. They are asking for the public's help and asks anyone who has any information about the incidents to call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922.
Morse added that people had expressed interest in donating money to go towards a reward and that Suzi Fox was coordinating those efforts.
Anyone who has any information on the incident, including a description of the vehicle, should call the Holmes Beach Police Department at 941-708-5804, Bradenton Beach officer Eric Hill 941-778-6311 or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward upon conviction the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline" at 888-404-3922. Suzi Fox can be reached at Turtle Watch, 941-778-5638.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.