State wildlife officials are investigating the shooting deaths of at least four ospreys and a heron in St. Petersburg's Shore Acres neighborhood.
The two latest victims both wound up on the property of Sheryll and Joseph Trussell, who live directly across the water from Weedon Island. "Two days ago we came out and found a grand (great) blue heron floating in the water," Sheryll Trussell told FOX 13 News. "It was dead."
They provided a photograph of the carcass, which had a puncture wound that might be a bullet or pellet wound.
There is no question the osprey they found last week was shot. He survived, and was x-rayed. Trussell said the bird lingered on their seawall overnight. "He tried to get in the water and fly," the homeowner recounted. "His wings were expanding but he couldn't take off."
Tampa Bay Bird Rescue Executive Director Barbara Walker said that osprey may never fly again. "Any dysfunction in the chest muscle can easily affect flight symmetry," she explained.
Walker said the first Shore Acres osprey shooting was in late 2012. Now there are five known birds shot all in one area within half a mile of each other, she said. The latest osprey is the first to survive its injury.
State wildlife officer Baryl Martin told FOX 13 News that investigators need more information from the public. "At this point we're still trying to find who's doing it and what we can do to prevent it," Martin said, adding it is entirely possible other big birds have been shot. "We don't know about it unless people tell us."
Trussell said her neighbors are now more watchful. "I'm very concerned about it, the neighbors are concerned" she said. "Somebody unfortunately has taken a liking to shooting birds."