PALM BEACH GARDENS — From scooping wayward turtles out of swimming pools to neutering feral cats to mounting bird houses for Purple Martins, a dedicated group of animal-loving volunteers at BallenIsles does it all.
The BallenIsles Wildlife Foundation has humble roots. Resident Mona Roberts trapped, neutered, vaccinated and released feral cats for close to two decades before she came to a few neighbors for help a few years ago, foundation President Marianne Guerra said.
They coalesced into a nonprofit and expanded their efforts. Since the beginning of last year, they’ve trapped, neutered, vaccinated and released more than a dozen feral cats. Releasing them back into the community helps control the population, because cats are territorial, Guerra said. More cats won’t move in where one has already staked a claim.
Roberts said she’s thankful to see the benefits of the time and money she spent trapping, neutering and releasing the cats.
“I’m really happy that this group has now formed and they are carrying what I started 20 years ago,” Roberts said.
Organizations with similar missions exist in the Ibis community in West Palm Beach and Admirals Cove in Jupiter.
A large part of the foundation’s mission is to educate people about the environment so they enjoy and maintain it, Vice President Irwin Edenzon said.
“One of the things about living in South Florida is that it’s a wildlife-rich environment,” he said.
Residents will soon find laminated guides to Florida birds in the golf and tennis shops, Guerra said. BallenIsles’ three courses golf courses just recently became Audubon-certified.
One birdhouse for Purple Martins — large, broad-chested swallows that migrate between the United States and South America — has already been installed on the practice area of the East golf course.
A second house designed for the species will be installed near the gazebo and fitness trail before the birds return to South Florida in mid-January, Edenzon said.
Purple Martins breed here, then head back to South America in the fall.
The birds primarily nest in houses provided by humans and will allow people to observe them up close, Guerra said. The 12-compartment “bird condominiums” places on high poles must be in open areas close to water sources.
The foundation is inclusive of plant-lovers, too. A magazine published several times a year that includes a “Growing Green” section focused on plants native to Florida.
Volunteers have rescued baby opossums, ducks, raccoons and injured turtles and taken them to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, which held a seminar for residents.
Whatever critters come their way, they care for them with compassion.
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