'Smoking' bird photo sparks outrage

'Smoking' bird photo sparks outrage Photo: WFLA.

June 27, 2019 11:36 AM

(WFLA) — Images of a tiny chick holding a cigarette in its beak have Florida residents calling for a crackdown on littering.

Karen Mason snapped the photos of a black skimmer feeding a chick last week at St. Pete's Beach in Pinellas County.

"I happened to see an adult giving a chick something," she said. "I knew it wasn't a fish, but I couldn't tell what it was."

She didn't realize what was in its mouth until she got home.

"I put it on the computer and I blew it up and I saw it was a cigarette butt," Mason said.

Mason, who helps educate people about birds as a bird steward, was furious. She posted the photo online, where it quickly sparked outrage.

"If that chick did actually swallow that cigarette, that chick is probably history," she said.

Keep Pinellas Beautiful removed more than 614,000 lbs. of trash from around the county last year.

"Cigarettes are the number one littered item in the world," Executive Director Pat DePlasco said. "There are more cigarettes on the ground than there is in a combination of other items."



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