• Rare birds disrupted by nudists on wildlife refuge

    Updated:

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A wildlife refuge is now a popular destination for nudists, and some rare birds that inhabit the area off the coast of Saint Petersburg are being disturbed, wildlife officials said.

    Passage Keys has been a federally protected habitat for nesting birds for 50 years.

    However, recently the island has become a popular nudist destination.

    State wildlife officials claim it is disrupting the rare birds and scaring them off.

    "This is their home. This is a bird sanctuary on Anna Maria Island. We're blessed to be able to live here and build homes here, but ultimately this belongs to them," resident Laurie Higgins said.

    A state wildlife spokesperson said it is a federal crime to walk on the island, but nudists are allowed to wade in the water off-shore.

    Officials plan to meet in the spring to discuss what changes need to be made to better protect the nesting birds.

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