Huguenot Memorial Park Visitors Urged to Take Precautions to Protect Shorebirds

April 14, 2008  

Huguenot Memorial Park beach-goers are advised to be especially cautious of the arrival of several species of shorebirds which often nest, roost and forage at the park during this time of year. All areas of the park currently remain open for pedestrian recreation and vehicular traffic.

Management has noted a growing population of Red Knots on the park's beach and is currently monitoring the nesting of Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns in the interior dune system (established as a Critical Wildlife Area).

The Red Knot is known for its annual 30,000 km migration trek between hemispheres, stopping at only a few specific locations along the way for food and rest. The Red Knot frequently has visited the Ft. George River Inlet and Nassau Sound Region (including Huguenot Memorial Park and Little Talbot Island). The species is a candidate for federal protection as an endangered species and current models predict that declining populations could be exhausted in as little as 10 years.

Birds that have historically nested at Huguenot include Black Skimmers, American Oystercatchers, Royal Terns, Gull-billed Terns and Laughing Gulls.

Park visitors should not feed the birds or disturb them in any way. Drivers and pedestrians should be especially careful to not 'flush' the birds—causing birds to fly away by quickly approaching and startling them, as this may inadvertently affect their survival. In addition, all dogs must be on a leash and under the owner's control at all times.

All wildlife in the park is protected by City Ordinance Sec. 28.818 which states, 'Hunting or disturbing animals prohibited. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt or disturb in any manner any of the fish, water fowl, birds, reptiles or any animals whatsoever present in, belonging to or preserved in any park or other recreational facility.'

Anyone found disturbing birds or other park-dwelling animals may be subject to a fine. The fine for harming or harassing birds protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is $15,000 per bird.

Huguenot Memorial Park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail making it a phenomenal place to view nature at work. Each month, a park naturalist conducts educational programs at this and other City of Jacksonville parks. Programs at Huguenot for the month of May include:

BEACH WALK AND TALK
1-3 p.m. Thursday, May 8
1-3 p.m. Thursday, May 22

Fresh air and exercise are added benefits during a guided tour of this beautiful oceanfront park, which is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Dress for the weather and location. Use sunscreen and insect repellant, and bring water and binoculars. The program is for all ages but some of the terrain makes it inappropriate for strollers. Meet at the campground store inside the park.

In the past, temporary vehicular and pedestrian closures have been enforced on certain parts of the beach to protect park wildlife at the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and pursuant to the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Managed by the City of Jacksonville's Recreation and Community Services Department, Huguenot Memorial Park is located at 10980 Heckscher Drive. The park is currently open daily 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

To learn more about Huguenot Memorial Park, call (904) 251-3335 or visit www.jaxparks.com. To learn more about the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, visit www.fws.gov.