One of the things you experience around these parts is salt. It coats everything especially when the wind blows for a good while. There's times when the truck gets coated so thoroughly that you have to use the washers and wiper just to see to drive. But from time to time we get a rain shower like we did this morning and all is good. Probably by this evening though I'll need another car wash; such is life on the island.
I'm going to take a short break from the law aspects of this issue to tell you about something else thats equally disturbing to most everybody I know.
Fair warning: If you like animals and respect wildlife as we do, this is probably going to tick you off.
The primary focus and argument about wildlife protection at the Seashore has been about sea turtles and a bird called the Piping Plover (charadrius melodus), specifically the Atlantic coast breeding population which is listed as threatened under the ESA. Don't panic about the bird as it is approaching a moment when it will be eligible for delisting in a few years. Don't kid yourself though, the environmentalists wont let that happen because if it does, their cash cow, aka your tax dollars, will dry up. I'll deal with the reality of these animals in another post soon.
Whats true is that virtually 100% of all turtle and plover mortality at the Seashore has been due to storms and/or predation. Obviously NPS cant do anything about the storms but they do choose to "play God" when it comes to predation. That's a heck of a choice to make for an agency that is required to maintain a viable natural ecosystem within the "primitive wilderness". Its not just NPS either USFWS likes to play God too. In both cases they do it with a vengeance.
A few years ago at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge somebody decided that the Canada geese that were present were a nuisance.. Some were "resident " geese while the remainder were migratory birds who just happened to pick the wrong place to nest. Once these birds nest, they begin to molt or shed their feathers and cant fly. USFWS decided that they were eating the grasses that other birds depend on.
Solution: wait for the molt and herd them into a special tractor trailer where they were all gassed ala a Nazi concentration camp. The death toll was literally thousands.
Predators utilize the natural brush that grows at PINWR for cover.
Solution: annually burn the brush to the ground destroying all life contained within as well as habitat for these animals.
NPS on the other hand takes a different approach and sets leg traps throughout the Seashore.
Result: literally hundreds of animals are killed here annually. Last year 788 mink, fox, otter, raccoons, opossum, nutria, dogs and cats were slaughtered by NPS. Yes, this includes peoples pets as traps don't discriminate.
These traps are located all over the Seashore, not just where the turtles and plovers are. And NPS has gone out of their way to conceal this effort though they must, by law, make the record public and the numbers are staggering and revolting. Is there any wonder why our community bulletin boards are filled with missing pet fliers?
Just one more fine example of your tax dollars at work. How these people sleep at night is beyond me.
Authors note, My murdered critter figure is wrong its actually 828 total but I cant find the '09 figures right at hand.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area Predator Removal
Totals through 2008, 828
Source: 2007 & 2008 CHNS Piping Plover annual reports