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The original item was published from 7/1/2021 9:59:15 AM to 7/6/2021 12:00:04 AM.

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Posted on: July 1, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Celebrate Independence Day the Floridian way with these wildlife-friendly tips from FWC

The Fourth of July in Florida means heading to the beach or taking the boat out for fun in the sun. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding Florida residents and visitors to keep an eye out for wildlife as they enjoy the state’s beautiful outdoors this weekend.

While residents and visitors flock to the beach or cruise through the state’s waterways, they can do their part to be respectful of wildlife. All Florida wildlife needs help to keep them safe by remembering these helpful summer tips:

Stash your trash
Keep beaches free of clutter including beach chairs and trash. If items are brought to the beach, remember to remove them when leaving and throw garbage in the proper trash bins.

Share the shore with nesting wildlife 
Respect posted signage and maintain distance from all nesting wildlife. Shorebirds build nests in the sand and their tiny, camouflaged chicks can be hard to see. Be on the lookout for signs designating Critical Wildlife Areas on the beach or coastal islands – these areas are closed to public access to protect wading birds and shorebirds while they nest and raise their chicks.

Sea turtles are nesting on beaches, too, and some baby turtles are emerging from their nests right now. Remember to give them space as they make their way to the water on their own. If beach visitors dig in the sand, they should fill in the holes before leaving so sea turtles do not fall into them.

Attend an official fireworks show and leave personal fireworks at home 
The loud sounds and bright lights of personal fireworks on Florida's beaches and waterways can have catastrophic effects on nesting birds and their chicks, as well as nesting sea turtles.

Go slow in manatee zones and look out below for Florida manatees while boating 
Manatees can be difficult to detect when they are underwater, so it is important for operators of boats and personal watercraft to be vigilant. Help protect manatees by following these simple guidelines:

  • Wear polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees.

  • Avoid boating in shallow areas to prevent damaging seagrass and to avoid resting and grazing manatees.

  • Look for large circles on the water, also known as manatee footprints, indicating the presence of a manatee below.

  • Look for a snout sticking up out of the water.

  • Follow posted manatee zones while boating.

Report sick, injured, distressed or dead manatees, sea turtles or shorebirds, or any wildlife violations to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or by dialing #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone so trained responders can assist. 

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