MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say that nudists are scaring off rare birds on Passage Key.
The Passage Key was established to protect native birds and serve as a breeding ground for them, but recently has been home to sandbars and is a popular destination for nudists.
“It is a federal crime to walk on the island,” a Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson told WFLA-TV. “Nudists are allowed to wade in the water off-shore, but are prohibited by law from being on the island.”
The island is monitored by federal officials on weekends and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservative Commission helps out during the week, but due to the island being so remote, it is difficult to patrol it seven days a week.
Officials are urging tourists and nudists to stay off the island. They have posted warning signs urging people to follow the law, but feel more needs to be done.
Dozens of species of birds reside on the island and nesting season last between April and August.
The Fish and Wildlife Services will discuss what changes need to be made to better protect the nesting birds, a spokesperson told WFLA.
Punishment varies based on the bird species that has been disrupted. Some offenders can be given jail time, while others may only have to pay a fine.
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