Twenty-One Protected Birds Shot to Death

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Twenty-One Protected Birds Shot to Death
Originally Posted: 11 April 2009

Twenty-One Protected Birds Shot to Death

From Animal Legal Defense Fund

Send thank you letters to Officer Dan Stermen and Lt. Wayne Maah who are  conducting the investigation and encourage them to follow through on legal actions against four recent graduates of the Naval Academy (Annapolis MD) who were arrested this past week after authorities say they wantonly shot at and killed 21 protected wading birds.

Sign the online petition here

And/or better yet, make direct contact here:

Officer Dan Stermen
Lt. Wayne Maah
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission
Community Relations Office
phone (850) 488-4676
email via website

White Ibis


On February 17, 2009, Officer Dan Stermen of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) heard gunshots coming from a known nesting area for birds. He and Lt. Wayne Maahs observed people shooting birds who were flying home to roost. The officers actually witnessed birds falling to the ground. They arrested seven people, initially charging four with misdemeanor trespassing and charging three with felony trespassing with a firearm. They confiscated rifles, shotguns and pistols, and collected the bodies of 21 dead birds, who are protected by federal law and/or protected in Florida as “species of special concern,” including white ibises, blue herons, a tri-colored heron and a snowy egret. According to an FWC spokesperson, “One of the lieutenants involved in this said that in his 27 years in the job, he had never seen such callous treatment of wildlife. These people were just firing for fun.”

Blue Heron

U.S. Navy officials identified four of the seven suspects as recent graduates of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. who are currently enrolled at the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Fla. The suspects are Joseph William Gursky, Mark Lewis McClure, Cullen Mark Shaughnessy, and Alexander Bruce Wilhelm. The Navy is conducting an internal investigation into their involvement in the bird shootings. The other three suspects are Keith G. Lisa, Zachary James Mato, and Stephanie Marie Meads. Besides the trespassing charges, State and Federal charges are pending against all seven suspects.

Tri-Colored Heron

Fish and Wildlife officials said this past week that they believe the group waited for the birds to return to roost, and then shot them “for the fun of it.”

Snowy Egret

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