State investigation finds trash dumped in pond at mobile home community

I-TEAM report on wildlife deaths at Jacksonville complex sparked investigation

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released the final results of an investigation sparked by a recent I-TEAM report on the deaths of fish and ducklings at a pond inside a Jacksonville mobile home park.

After some people living in the Portside Mobile Home Community, located off Beach Boulevard, complained late last month about dying wildlife, covered in an oily substance, the FWC and the Florida Department of Environmental Investigation Office of Emergency Response began investigating.

According to the 18-page environmental investigation report, state investigators didn't find any evidence of oil or dangerous chemical in the water, but they did find that trash was being dumped into the small lake. 

The state has received assurance from property management that it will remind residents about reporting people who use the lake as their own private garbage dump. 

Julie Countryman, a resident of the mobile home community, first spoke with the I-TEAM on July 29. She was upset after taking photos of ducks that appeared to be covered in what she described as an oily substance. She also said she was worried about recent death of wildlife in the pond. 

"There's been dead ducklings, fish and some of the birds that are still left have some kind of oil or chemical on them," Countryman said.

That same day, another resident told the I-TEAM she saw a man pouring an unknown liquid from a plastic bag into the pond.

State investigators from the two different agencies came out to investigate the lake. According to the report, they found wildlife in the lake that appeared to be fine, but no signs of oil or dangerous chemicals.

However, investigators noted in the report that they found trash in several areas of the lake. In the document, they included a photo showing ducks swimming in water filled with garbage.  

As a result of that finding, management agreed to warn residents about keeping the lake clean and to report anyone who is seen putting anything suspicious into the lake.

Countryman was pleased by that result.

“It gives people an idea of, 'Hey, when you see something, pay attention.' It could be something or it couldn’t," Countryman said. "Now people are noticing the pond more.”

To report violations, call the FWC Wildlife Alert Program at 888-404-FWCC (3922). Callers could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 if their information results in an arrest and conviction.

Management told the I-TEAM that they take great pride in making sure the water in that lake is treated to prevent animal deaths. 

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