Bert Pacetti, Protector of Mosquito Inlet Wildlife

Thu, Sep 21, 2023 at 10:47AM

Bert Pacetti (Left)

The protection of waterbird populations became a significant national conservation movement during the early 1900s. Largely due to the Audubon Society’s drive to eliminate plume hunters, the U.S. Government initiated the hiring of game wardens to protect designated federal bird sanctuaries. This movement brought about the ratification of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Ponce Inlet, or Mosquito Inlet as it was known, was famous for its spectacular water bird population and Bert Pacetti, son of Bartola Pacetti, had become the natural guardian of this area. The Pacetti Hotel attracted hunters, fishermen, and tourists desiring to explore Florida’s pristine coastal wilderness with its abundance of waterbird roosting and nesting areas. In 1903, Bert Pacetti, Ponce Park’s renowned fishing guide, was named the warden of the Mosquito Inlet Sanctuary by President Theodore Roosevelt. 

On March 17, 1909, The Daytona Daily News reported on one of Pacetti’s harrowing pursuits which led to the arrest of the notorious Dupont brothers.  Warden Pacetti and C. L. Slayton of West Virginia were on the south beach just below Mosquito Inlet when they saw a launch, the Uno, pass ahead to the North.  Then they heard shots and, looking up, saw a flock of “gentle, trusting pelicans,” which had become tame from being undisturbed, flying in all directions. The Dupont brothers had fired deadly loads of shot into the flock killing many and maiming others. Pacetti and Slayton took off in their launch pursuing the Uno but were unable to catch it between the Inlet and Daytona. However, the chase was still on because Pacetti tied up the boat and was joined by Justice H. T. Titus continuing the chase by automobile to the Ormond draw bridge where they overtook the boys. The Dupont brothers confessed to the “sport” of shooting the birds and were given a preliminary hearing on the charge of killing the pelicans.  They were bound over to appear before the Criminal Court where they would face federal charges. Pacetti and Slayton were said to deserve great credit for their persistent pursuit and bringing the culprits to justice.

Game Warden Captures Shooters of Pelicans

By 1915, Captain B. J. Pacetti of Ponce Park had become the federal game warden in charge of the Southwest District of the United States. During May of 1915, Pacetti had issued the warrants for the arrest of seven men. The Florida Audubon Bulletin reported that in Miami on May 6th 1918, Federal Wardens B. J. Pacetti and P. S. Farnham caught two plume dealers “with the goods” and captured the biggest haul of illegal bird plumage ever in Florida. One of the criminals in this case was a former county commissioner who had hid the suitcase containing the plumes behind a bureau in his hotel room. The total value of the haul was estimated to be $7,000.   

During his career, Pacetti hired Jesse Linzy, one of Ponce Park’s few black residents, to assist him. At the Pacetti Hotel, Jesse worked as a fishing guide and handyman. Jesse was a powerful man who could row a boatload of tourists across the inlet and back. It is said that Warden Pacetti and Jesse traveled to many areas of the United States including Alaska and Hawaii. 

Jesse Linzy

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