A New Rule Balances Wildlife and Off-Road-Vehicle Use on a North Carolina Beach

A New Rule Balances Wildlife and Off-Road-Vehicle Use on a North Carolina Beach

Congressional legislation and a pending civil suit threaten the future of a new rule that protects wildlife and allows vehicles on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

By Anna Sanders
Published: 06/12/2012
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Anna Sanders

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


If the Final Plan is so good

If the Final Plan is so good and fair, why are so many good, nature loving folks so upset that they are willing to spend hundreds of personal hours and thousands of personal dollars fighting it. To coin a phrase, "It doesn't make sense."

Is it possible that it's the Plan that doesn't make sense. We have listened to the volumes of Best Available Science and had all of the Promises and Historic Legislation thoroughly explained to us by Audubon, Defenders of Wildlife and SELC. We appreciate that because, you're right, we Don't understand it. No matter how many times they repeat it, it still does not make sense.

What did make sense was when, during the House Committee Hearing, Dare County Commissioner, Warren Judge, so appropriately described the environmentalists idea of compromise as a choice of "Would you rather get shot in the head or the foot" and the good Congressman from Utah said, referring to The Plan, that it, or what it was doing to the people of Hatteras, Stinks. At least, I think that is the way he put it.

You want to know what we understand? It's the simple stuff.

Got to tell you something else. My wife and I have pulled three BIG Turtles out of the street this week and moved them to safety (nesting season you know). They smile at you, you know. We feed the Yellow Finches and others, they are beautiful. We had a baby Chick-a-dee born in a little house three feet from our back door and whatched it take it's first flight. It would stick it's head out the house and watch us come and go. I say all this because some of the environmentalists are making it hard for me to know how to feel. I have to keep reminding myself, it's not the fault of the birds or animals, it's just certain people.

Thanks for your time

Ron & Cecile (obxguys)

You know, it IS the birds'

You know, it IS the birds' fault. Finches and chickadees nest in people's yards. Least Terns, Black Skimmers, American Ooystercatchers, and Piping Plovers nest on the beach. They need space on the beach to succeed. So when Audubon succeeds in getting NPS to give them what they need, go ahead and blame them for being adapted to nest on beaches and not in your rafter or in a birdhouse. If you like some birds, and if you like to help take terrapins out of the road, that's great. But the beach-nesting birds need what they need, and if you don't want want to admit it, or if you don't want to give them what they need to raise their young, that's sad. It's sadder still if nature-loving people have been duped by the ORV lobby's lies. But, you know what they say in politics: tell a lie three times and people believe it's the truth. The ORV people have told their lies many, many times over.

Out right lies and half truths.

There was a time when I was in full suport of the Audubon. Then I became aware that they would lie and bend the truth to get their way. This article is a perfect example. There is no proof that visitors to the park have run over any indangered or threatened animals. There are 2 photos that have been circulated showing a turtle and bird in tire tracks. No proof that they were not run over by a park service truck, which will always be allowed to drive on the beach. No proof that these photos were even taken somewhere within park boundries. 28 miles of beach open to vehicles? Only for a few months in the middle of the winter when few people visit the park. Only half of that is open during peak visitation periods. Audubon will only be happy when this National Seashore is a wilderness area and inaccessible to most Americans.

The adult sea turtle was run

The adult sea turtle was run over by one of three vehicles caught on security cameras illegally entering the beach after 10 p.m. Get over the black helicopter theories and just accept that an irresponsible ORV driver killed an adult loggerhead.

One tiny little tidbit of

One tiny little tidbit of information that the ORVers don't want you to know is that, by law, NPS must protect birds, sea turtles, and all natural resources on Cape Hatteras National Seashore AND when there are conflicts "natural resource protection must be predominant." The new regulation apparently complies with the law; the Interim Plan clearly did not.

Ms. Youngman's statement does not contradict the FONSI at all and you would know that if you would read the FONSI, not just the title. The US Gov't scientists (Dept of Interior) made specific recommendations to NPS, specifically for Cape Hatteras, and the NPS ignored them.

The 'make'm go somewhere else' strategy for wildlife management doesn't work-- never has, never will. There are volumes of evidence and peer-reviewed science that clearly show that vehicles on beaches harm birds and sea turtles. The National Park Service has documented many cases of vehicles crushing nests and chicks, and even sea turtles and their nests, at Cape Hatteras. There's probably no better proof in the cause of ORV impacts than the immediate rebounding of birds and sea turtles once they were adequately protected. This followed a long period of dramatic decline in the protection of these natural resources when the NPS failed to protect them.

Cape Hatteras is a better place because of this new regulation. I, for one, will visit Cape Hatteras more often than I did before. And I know many more who feel the same way.

Thank you, Audubon, for shedding light on this important issue.

a miss-statement of facts

“Unfortunately, the Interim Strategy did not even incorporate the measures that the government’s own scientists identified as necessary to protect wildlife at the seashore,” says Julie Youngman

What a shame that statement contradicts the FONSI, Finding Of No Significant Impact by USFWS issued on the Interim Plan.

The USFWS stated in the FONSI

The USFWS stated in the FONSI that actions at Cape Hatteras would not result in the extinction of the species, not that they wouldn't impact the local population.

The NPS has records of

The NPS has records of destroyed nests and killed chicks by ORVs, but since you do not want to accept that reality, you call it a lie. How special!

It's standard SOP to remove exotic and invasive species - or even over-populated native species - which negatively impact struggling species. It happens all across the planet. No surprises there. The facts are, native or not, none of those mammalian species would be present in any numbers if not for the human destruction/alteration of the habitat. That's in addition to the fact mammals like the European red fox, and especially raccoon and opossum increase in spite of those changes, over and above natural carrying capacity. Allowing exotics and invasives to continue to devastate other species, is not "letting nature take its course."

Always had less than 10 plover nests (do you mean pairs)? Really? How many nests were there in 1925? 1935? !945? 1955? 1965? 1975? 1985? I'll look forward to you publishing those numbers as I've never been able to find records of anyone even looking for them during those years.
And if range is your measure of what breeding numbers should be, and if Cape Lookout is at the very, very southern edge of the piping plover's breeding habitat and has 40 pair of plover, how many more pair should Cape Hatteras have?

The piping plover is listed as threatened, not endangered and while it may be the "poster bird" for the consequences of the destruction of the natural resources at Cape Hatteras, the regulations are meant to protect all the beach-nesting species at Cape Hatteras. It's about more than just 6 plover nests.

i have lived and owned a

i have lived and owned a business on hatteras island for 35 years. the very first sentence of this piece is a total lie. there has never been a documented killing of any animal by an off road vehicle here. the rest of the article is filled with inaccuracies, skewed 'facts' and is another example of one-sided journalism. it makes me ill.

The second, third, and fourth

The second, third, and fourth sentences of this comment are lies. Chicks, sea turtle nests, and an adult female sea turtle have all been killed by ORVs at Hatteras and documented by the NPS and independent researchers.

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