Just a few days ago, New Times told you about how groups including Audubon and Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (STOP) train volunteers who keep watch at night on Broward County beaches to ensure hatchlings make it to the water safely.
Around 11 p.m. Friday night, a 72-year old volunteer was shot on the beach during a patrol.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Stan Pannaman was walking on the beach in Lauderdale-By-the-Sea with another volunteer and encountered a belligerent 38-year-old, Michael Q. McAuliffe, who said he didn't like turtle protectors and began removing wooden stakes that mark a turtle nest. Pannaman pulled out his gun and warned him that interfering with the endangered species is a felony, but McAuliffe wrangled the gun from him and shot Pannaman in the hip.
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McAuliffe was charged with"aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and battery on a person 65 or older, the Sentinel says.
STOP said in a statement:
Late Friday evening, July 17, 2015 two Marine Turtle Permitted volunteers were attacked by an individual that was exhibiting aggressive behavior towards sea turtle nests on a Central Broward County Beach. During the altercation one of the Marine Turtle Permitted volunteers was non-lethally shot by the individual exhibiting the aggressive and violent behavior. Both Marine Turtle Permitted volunteers are in stable condition and are expected to fully recover. Police took the suspect into custody and transported him to the Broward County Jail. Our volunteers often experience violence and harassment from the beach goers on Broward County Beaches. SFAS – South Florida Audubon Society has 50 Marine Turtle permitted sea turtle hatchling rescue volunteers who collaborate with the 120 plus STOP - Sea Turtle Oversight Protection Marine Turtle Permitted volunteers. All permitted volunteers are fully trained and then qualify to be added to the permits issued by FWC – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
On any select nights from May until October the sea turtle hatchling rescue volunteers conduct patrols on the 24 miles of Broward County beaches. Most interactions with the public are friendly with curious tourists from around the world and local South Florida residents. The volunteers rescue sea turtle hatchlings and document the disorientations due to artificial light pollution. They are also subject to hostile and aggressive behavior from individuals who interfere with the sea turtles and the sea turtle hatchling rescue operations.
For more details, follow STOP on Facebook.