Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue

Annual Report

2014 Annual Report to the Public

Our Mission:

Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue, Inc., is an IRS-recognized tax-exempt organization established to (1)rescue abused, unwanted, disabled, sick, and orphaned wildlife; rehabilitate them; and providepermanent sanctuary, if necessary, or return them to their preferred habitat, and (2) educate residentsand visitors about protecting wildlife and the environment and removing hazards that place wildlifeand other animals (including humans) at risk, which in turn leads to a respect of the environment ofthe Florida Keys as well as all other areas of the United States from which many come.

Program Services:

To accomplish its mission, FKWR provides the following programs and services:

  • Twenty-four-hour rescue service, seven days a week.
  • Fully-equipped hospital and recovery facilities.
  • Environmental education programs in schools and with youth groups.
  • Presentations at meetings and other venues as requested.
  • Organized habitat cleanup and restoration activities which include planting trees and shrubs inscarified habitat to provide food for and protect wildlife.
  • Implementation of new ideas, such as construction of the first the monofilament recycling bin,now seen in many places in the Florida Keys, in an attempt to keep our environment clean.

The Year in Review:

In 2014, FKWR treated 1,220 wildlife critters. Of this, 1,1285 were birds, and 1,090 were wading birds(including 438 Brown Pelicans and 143 Double-Crested Cormorants ,Great White Herons 38, Blue Heron 5and Wundaman’s Heron 3). Other species included raccoons, Key deer, snakes, turtles, and opossums. Manyof the rescues were Federally or State listed as endangered, threatened, or species of special concern. We wereable to rehabilitate and return 91% of these critters back to the wild.

Brown Pelicans disabled by being fed filleted fish carcasses numbered 40, increase of 8 from last year. Aswith last year, over 60% (23) of these disablements came from one camping resort on Big Pine Key. FloridaFish & Wildlife Conservation Commission was notified last year about the problem, and it appears that theywill be taking action (the wheels of justice turn slowly). In the meantime, we continue to try to convince themto take action on their own. The second largest number of disabled pelicans was five (down from nine lastyear) from a camping resort on Cudjoe Key, with whom we continue to work to resolve the issue, and thebalance were found on various other islands.

Improperly-discarded-fishing-line is a perennial problem in the Keys, despite our efforts to educate the publicabout the detrimental affects of fishing line. Entanglement in fishing line and fish-hook injuries accounted for442 of our rescues (up from 351 last year and 258 the year before). Brown Pelicans were the primary victims,with 396 suffering injuries including pouches torn by hooks. The balance were an assortment of wading birds,except for one turkey vulture which tried to eat a White Ibis which died entangled in fishing line. Theserescues were the “lucky” ones as hundreds of others die sight unseen, entangled in thick mangroves.Emaciated birds accounted for 372 of our rescues (down from 524 last year), primarily affecting wading birdsbut evident in raptors and vultures as well.

Brown Pelicans disabled by being fed filleted fish carcasses numbered 40, increase of 8 from last year. As withlast year, over 60% (23) of these disablements came from one camping resort on Big Pine Key. Florida Fish &Wildlife Conservation Commission was notified last year about the problem, and it appears that they will betaking action (the wheels of justice turn slowly). In the meantime, we continue to try to convince them to takeaction on their own. The second largest number of disabled pelicans was five (down from nine last year) from acamping resort on Cudjoe Key, with whom we continue to work to resolve the issue, and the balance were foundon various other islands.

Improperly-discarded-fishing-line is a perennial problem in the Keys, despite our efforts to educate the publicabout the detrimental affects of fishing line. Entanglement in fishing line and fish-hook injuries accounted for 442of our rescues (up from 351 last year and 258 the year before). Brown Pelicans were the primary victims, with396 suffering injuries including pouches torn by hooks. The balance were an assortment of wading birds, exceptfor one turkey vulture which tried to eat a White Ibis which died entangled in fishing line. These rescues were the“lucky” ones as hundreds of others die sight unseen, entangled in thick mangroves. Emaciated birds accountedfor 372 of our rescues (down from 524 last year), primarily affecting wading birds but evident in raptors andvultures as well.

As well, an additional 98 rescues displayed symptoms of poisoning by unknown toxins, most likelyfrom polluted water. Of these, 32 exhibited partial or complete paralysis.

Other rescues suffered injuries from being hit by cars, flying into windows, and flying into powerlines as well as attacks by predators, disablements from improperly-discarded trash, and encounterswith fences. We cared for numerous orphaned or abandoned babies as well.

We continued to conduct environmental educations programs with youth groups and at variousvenues in the Lower Keys. Presentations promoted protecting the Keys environment and wildlife byteaching children and adults about the human-caused dangers our wildlife face in their habitat whichis decreasing in area while becoming more polluted. We cover topics from migrating birds and theirfood supplies to the dangers of plastics in the environment, stressing that it is important to keep theenvironment free of trash and toxins, not only for animals but for people. In addition to pictures, ourpresentations are reinforced by the appearance of some of our permanent residents exhibiting theirdisabilities. Our field trips focus on wildlife species and their habitat, so the work of planting treesand shrubs becomes important in the minds of participants who understand that they are augmentingfood and habitat resources for animals struggling to survive.

Perhaps as a result of the 2010 oil spill scare, there is more interagency focus on environmental issues in the Keys. In addition to conducting our own habitat cleanup field trips, FKWR teamed up atdifferent times with Reef Relief, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and the U.S. Fish& Wildlife Service in separate coastal cleanup efforts. In the course of normal operations, FKWRparticipates in Mote Marine Laboratory’s Marine Ecosystem Event Response and AssessmentProgram whereby members of the public who frequent the waters of the Florida Keys NationalMarine Sanctuary and its surrounding areas provide information about unusual events they witness inthat ecosystem. Given that many of the wading birds we rescue are taken from coastal waters, it iseasy for us to observe the condition of those waters and report red tide or unusual turbidity to MoteMarine. FKWR also participates in Lion Fish monitoring during rescues. Lionfish were first observed in the Keys in January 2009, but since then, they have totally taken over the marine environment throughout the entire Florida Keys. (Fortunately, they have become quite popular in Lower Keys restaurants, so on the upside, the fishing industry is being helped.)

Governance and Staff:

Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue, Inc., is governed by an all-volunteer board of directors who receive nocompensation for their services.

  • Maya Totman, President
  • Paul A. Totman, Vice President
  • Dvm Sam Bacos, Veterinarian
  • Stuart Garrison, Consultant
  • Amy Jones, Director
  • Joan Knoss, Director

The organization is staffed by Maya Totman, Director, Paul Totman, and volunteers, all unpaid.

We exist to care for those who need special attention and to ease their suffering as soon as possible. We exist to speak for those who cannot speak.