Marco Island discusses new penalties to protect endangered species

There may be new rules to protect southwest Florida’s endangered species.

These new rules would apply to animals, such as the Burrowing Owls, which have had a record year of 418 babies. On Marco Island, it could be more expensive for a person to remove them legally instead of facing a fine for destroying their nests.

“If Marco Island didn’t have all of it’s wildlife and this beautiful natural habitat and gorgeous beach,” Charlette Roman said, a Marco Island city councilor, “we’d just be a patch of dirt.”

That is why Roman said we’ve got to protect it.

“If you love the environment like Marco islanders do and if the environment of Marco Island is key to our economic prosperity and quality of life, then you want an ordinance that protects the threatened and endangered species,”┬áRoman said.

The City of Marco Island wants to beef up its ordinance that protects certain species, like the Burrowing Owls and the Gopher Tortoises, and create pricey penalties for violators.

If a person purchases a lot with a federally protected species on it and wants to build on it, he or she will have to obtain a permit to remove it.

One construction company on Marco Island told WINK News it is all for more stringent penalties. It is all for forcing companies to go through the permit process because right now, it is cheaper to get a fine than a permit.

“It appears that many times when individuals go before the magistrate the fines have been running about $1, which is not even the price of a cup of coffee these days,” Roman said.

But now, the burrowing owl moved up from a species of special concern to a state threatened species, which means it needs more protection.

“I’m passionate because this is what makes Marco Island,” Roman said.

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