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Vero Beach, Florida Biologists Produce, Sing Song Dedicated to Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge


March 6, 2003

Bert Byers, (772) 321 5960 or
Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7107, 678-296-6400 (cell)

Three men from the South Florida Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Vero Beach, Florida, with no commonality other then their employer and their occupation as fish and wildlife biologists, came together at the turn of the century, to exploit another interest-music.

They came together primarily to help a local charity’s annual fund raising benefit, but they ended up with more then they bargained for.

“We got started when someone found out Brad Rieck played an instrument and they needed someone for their next annual charity benefit,” said Jim Boggs of Oklahoma City, an ecologist with the contaminants division of the Service’s office.

Rieck, a fish and wildlife biologist from Preston, Md., knew Boggs had the talent to join his group. They combined to find a third in Service biologist Steve Schubert of Philadelphia.

Thus, the Blued Eyed Monsters were born.

With Boggs handling the acoustic guitar, percussion and vocals, Schubert signed on as the bass guitarist who also does percussion and some singing. Rieck took care of the other vocals, percussion and electric guitar.

The three of them easily established a comfortable rhythm of annual concerts for charity - until a new opportunity carried them to another level of music.

The Service was on the verge of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System and wanted to honor the occasion with a compact disc of music and poetry dedicated to the refuge system.

The “Blue Eyed Monsters” wanted to perform something special for the refuge. They went looking and found a real expert who also happened to be the refuge manager at Pelican Island, Paul Tritaik. He provided background information and historical perspective on the establishment and subsequent history of Pelican Island.

Getting ready for the final production required a lot of work.

“We all had jobs and private lives,” said group leader Rieck, “but we knew to make this professional, we had to practice.”

And practice they did. In addition, after compiling all the facts from Tritaik, they wrote the music and vocals and time and again, they rewrote the words and re-arranged the music.

The Caribbean-calypso-hip-hop beat to the song is apt to start a toe-tapping reaction whenever it is heard. The first public performance will be at the centennial on March 15, at Riverview Park in Sebastian.

In the meantime, it can also be heard on the Pelican Island web site at

Greg Thompson, the Service’s CD project coordinator, said he was surprised at the overwhelming response he got for the project. “I knew that there were many talented musicians and poets within the Service and I was hoping that some of them would be willing to create original works to commemorate the refuge centennial.”

Thompson said the songs and poems were all written, composed, performed, recorded and donated by employees from throughout the Service.

He got 50 contributions, far surpassing what he expected. “All of the material was good,” he said, “we just didn’t have room to fit it all on the CD.”

He said the cuts that eventually made the final CD stood out from the pack. “The Story of Pelican Island was one of those songs that stood out, its message is exactly what we were looking for.”

The CD titled “Songs of the System,” will include 21 selections and will be on sale at Pelican Island and more than 500 National Wildlife Refuges throughout the United States.

Today those three men of Vero Beach, make that four counting Tritak, have come together because of their music, their love for the outdoors as represented by the song, “The Story of Pelican Island,” and now they have more in common then just their science. Their song has been recorded on a CD, "Songs of the System," and the money raised from its sale will support conservation projects at Pelican Island National Wildlife Reguge and refuges throughout the system.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Vero Beach office is a unit of the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquartered in Atlanta.

The Story of Pelican Island

From the midden ‘cross the river, the sun shines bright.
The mangroves quiver as the pelicans take flight.
In this isle of eden, no cause for protection.
No sanctuary needed under nature’s direction.
Gators, panthers, dolphins, ibis, eagles, manatee,
storks, terns, fish, herons, turtles of the sea.
Fins, feathers, fur, and plume.
Scales, beaks, bills, and wings.
Estuary and lagoon, home to many livin’ things.
Squeak, squawk, croak, chirp. The sounds that could be heard.
Grunt, warble, whistle, caw. But not a human word.
Trouble then began, the course was charted.
Legacy of man, the island peace departed.
Plume hunters,
the front stirred.
War was waged.
Egg robbers, the mobs were.
Collecting was the rage.
Paul Kroegel, ever able.
Seized the day.
Nobody takes any wildlife today.
Look all you want, if you shoot you can’t stay.
I got a plan just to keep it that way.
Treasured resource conservation, centennial celebrate.

The fashion of the day, stick a feather in your hat.
A passion you could say. That’s not where it’s at.
They saw the signs of population drop,
worried ‘bout declines. This we gotta stop.
Kroegel had a hootenanny, tried to raise support.
His timing was uncanny, to Washington to court
the Press and politicians would need to make a choice.
You wanna keep your fishin’,
you gotta raise your voice.
I said “Hey Teddy, better get ready.
My name is Kroegel, it rhymes with bagel.
We are gonna regret, killin’ all the egrets.
Diversity you see, will help humanity.
We need this land, we gotta make a plan.
To save these birds, we need action not words.”
Plume hunters,
the front stirred.
War was waged.
Life stilling, coffers filling,
set the stage.
Warden Kroegel, ever able,
armed with a 10-gauge.
Here in the Indian River Lagoon,
habitat set aside can’t be too soon.
For growth and migration from dawn ‘til full moon.
Treasured resource conservation, centennial celebrate.

In Sebastian, F-L-A they identified the land
where birds could be okay, the Island Pelican.
Fresh water meets the salt. Five acres, it’s not huge.
Safe as in a vault, America’s first refuge.
Vital rookeries, inaccessible to man.
Take all the pics you please, but stay off the Pelican.
The future will be bright, this place along the coast.
Anytime day or night, to this we toast.
Now 90 million acres, our refuge system.
Protected from the takers, without, we’d surely miss ‘em.
So in these words, we hope you heard,
Conservation, is your salvation.
To all the Kroegels in the U-S-A,
who make a difference, we have to say,
“Leaders are rare, a thing to be proud.
We’re glad you care, we say it out loud.”

©Words and Music by Steve Schubert, Brad Rieck and Jim Boggs, 2002.

Media note: A limited number of CDs containing the song "The Story of Pelican Island" are available by mail. The song is also downloadable from the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge web site,

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at or

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

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