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Save Our Seabirds CEO David Pilston with Jeanne Dubi, of Sarasota Audubon Society, Kevin Barton, of Wildlife Center of Venice, and Dr. Robin Jenkins, of Peace River Wildlife Center. Photo by Robin Hartill.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2013 4 years ago

Wildlife groups flock to SOS

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Before the digital age, a “tweet” had one meaning: the chirp of a bird.

Save Our Seabirds CEO David Pilston believes modern tweets — those 140-characters-or-less messages users send out through Twitter — could benefit those birds.

Tweeting is just one idea Pilston suggested for improving communications between wildlife rescue groups during a Thursday, June 13 meet-and-greet, which representatives from the Wildlife Center of Venice, Sarasota Audubon, Peace River Wildlife Center, Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center Inc., and Island Veterinary Clinic attended.

Frequently, multiple organizations receive calls about the same sick or injured bird, and each dispatches a rescuer without knowing that another group is already on scene, but if each organization tweeted before sending someone on a rescue, the organizations could avoid wasting volunteers’ time.

Pilston organized the get-together to reach out to other groups.

“Save Our Seabirds has had a pretty isolationist attitude in the past, and that’s changing,” he told the Longboat Observer.

“In the past there’s been virtually no communication with other groups. It was almost viewed as a competitive relationship. But we’re all in this together.”

Group representatives discussed ways to determine which group handles which rescues.

“We’ve always had a lot of overlap in range,” said Wildlife Center of Venice President Kevin Barton, who suggested taking advantage of the fact that SOS has earlier hours than his group, which closes later.
Pilston described recent changes at SOS.

In the past, he said that calls sometimes went unanswered for hours at SOS. Now, the organization aims to respond within 10 minutes of a call. A new system allows people to call and check the status of any bird that SOS has treated.

The facility itself has implemented facility improvements, and SOS has created four accredited field trips for Sarasota County schools, a summer camp program and an internship program. The facility started charging for admissions last year, generating approximately $100,000 in additional revenue for its first year.

One other major change:
Former Executive Director Lee Fox is gone from SOS — a separation that has ruffled a few feathers. (See sidebar)

Pilston didn’t refer to Fox by name during his remarks, but said: “I am not a Pelican Man, and I am not a bird lady. SOS is not about any one personality.”

Protest plan
Supporters of former SOS Executive Director Lee Fox have planned a protest for Saturday, June 29 — but Fox told the Longboat Observer she didn’t learn about the protest until after it was planned; she will not be there.

Fox insists she was fired, but the SOS Board of Directors maintains that Fox refused to accept new terms of employment.

Fox declined to comment about whether she wants her position back, but said she plans to meet with an attorney for the board next week.

“Let’s see what happens there,” she said.

SOS CEO David Pilston said the board offered to meet with Fox because “a lot of misinformation is being spread out there,” citing the protest.

“All it’s going to do is disparage SOS, and, ultimately, it’s going to hurt the birds.”


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