Broward Sheriffs Office

Agencies Discuss Ways to Protect Sea Turtle Volunteers

A volunteer working to protect sea turtle nests continues to recover after being shot during a dispute with a man who said he disliked sea turtles. Now, Broward commissioners and law enforcement agencies are working to make sure incidents like that don't happen again.

"What happened on the night of the 17th happened so quickly. We really didn't have time to dial 911," said Stanley Pannaman, who was attacked.

Pannaman, 72, was out protecting sea turtle eggs on a beach at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea when he was attacked and shot in the hip.

"This gentleman who was homeless and drunk out of his mind and very hostile. We needed a quick response, and luckily we got one, but we need it all the time," Pannaman said.

He met up with other sea turtle advocates on Wednesday to talk about possible solutions to avoid this problem in the future. Commissioner Mark Brown organized the meeting, along with local police.

"During this meeting, we really established a lot of common ground on steps that need to be taken to go forward when it comes to the safety and communication, and ensuring the safety of the volunteers out there," Lt. Thomas Palmer with the Broward Sheriff's Office explained.

According to the Audubon Society, turtle advocates are often harassed and mistreated when they're tending to turtles on the beach.

"There was a discussion that was had by a lot of the volunteer groups that there was a widespread issue when it comes to their interaction with the public. That they were dealing with inebriated persons and things of that nature," Lt. Palmer said. "That was information that we never had. So going forward now, we can be more proactive into contacting and looking and helping these groups out."

Some of the tips that came out of the meeting included better ways to identify volunteer locations and increasing communication when volunteers are out in turtle habitats.

BSO also suggested advocates call police and report hostile occurrences as soon as they happen. They also mentioned the possibility of more police foot patrols in commercial beach areas.

Meanwhile, Pannaman is still in pain, but he's recovering and happy to be alive, "I'm extremely lucky throughout the whole situation, even though I don't recommend to anybody to be shot."

BSO still maintains this specific attack was an isolated incident. They hope Wednesday's meeting was a step in the right direction for the safety of turtles and volunteers.

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