This morning as I sit here enjoying my coffee I began to peruse the inter-web and ended up checking out a post on the Frank and Frans website that asked about the hypocrisy between a statement made by the Defenders of Wildlife and their advocacy of the slaughter of "predators" here on the Islands. His post (in part) goes like this:
"Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members, supporters and subscribers, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information visit www.defenders.org. "(defenders statement)
"How can this be when they allow, even support, the killing of hundreds of "predators" is an opossum not a native animal? how about foxes? The fact is their entire statement bothers me, but how on earth is it okay for one group, or in this case 3, to play god, deciding which of his creatures can live, and which must die? And how can these groups then call themselves "conservationists?""
Well Chris, Let me take a crack at answering your question.
As I'm sure you know, there's a rather substantial difference between the DOW/Audubon version of environmentalism and conservationism.
Though DOW/Audubon profess to be "conservators" of nature and wildlife, their brand advocates the removal of "man" from the environment, excepting them of course. And they have no qualms at altering the balance of nature in order to achieve a single goal and they call it science. Along the way they will blame the presence of man for, in our case, the lack of nesting success of the birds and turtles at the seashore. Of course to do this, at least in the case of the Seashore, they MUST ignore any and all possible explanations
for nesting failure except for mankind. But since little or no record exists indicating that we are harming wildlife here, they must resort to speculation. This is why virtually all of their so called "science" is fraught with "could have, may have, might, possibly" ad infinitum and our documented science must be ignored else they could not advance their agenda.
Conservationists believe in preservation of species as well, but believe that man and nature can coexist within a given environment. Within the ranks of conservationists are tens of thousands of sportsmen who contribute millions of dollars annually, in one form or another to wildlife conservation efforts around this nation and are in large part are directly responsible for the recovery of many species.
Plovers are a textbook case of this ignorance of both fact and sound scientific reasoning. The environmental rhetoric claims that a continued increase in ORV use was responsible for declining plover numbers at the Seashore though there are records I have seen that indicate a decline in ORV use after '02-'03.
In a study authored by David Wilson that mirrors a study done by a friend of mine, Scott, a couple years ago, a well documented, direct correlation is drawn between plover numbers at the Seashore and the frequency of storms both here and within their wintering grounds. To sum it up, when mother nature puts a weather smack-down into play, plover numbers drop. Its a good, short read and can be found at:
Last year, both Cape Lookout and Delaware plovers got dose of the weather and the majority of their nests were lost. Now Derb isn't stupid enough to blame that on ORVs here but he'd likely use that as justification for the 1000 meter, 771 acre plover buffers. The reasoned science mentioned above, however, will be ignored.
This relates to your question in that rather than deal with a reasoned approach that utilizes sound science, a selective, biased, and speculative campaign is waged by these groups to both advance their agenda and of course raise funds while hiding the truth from the public.
Having engaged in repeated public debate with those that would advance the dark-sides agenda about predation, particularly by the possum and raccoon, I have been repeatedly told that neither are native to the Islands and are here only because of the presence of man.
I find this to be absurd.
Though I'm certain that any study regarding either beast would show an increase in population around human settlement, it must be taken into account that these animals are a part of nature and exist in areas within this nation with little or no human population. And as it is the recognized nature of life to fill every available niche within the environment, I find it extraordinarily difficult to accept that without the presence of man, these animals would not be here.
Its speculated that the Islands have existed for up to 17,000 years and even within documented history have repeatedly been connected and disconnected from the mainland. These animals are both native to North Carolina and thrive sound side on the mainland but apparently are native to everywhere but here.
So, I'm left with this mental image that at some point in the distant past, the native Americans that lived here and across the sound, built an ARK and transported all of these animals here, oh wait, just the raccoons and 'possums. Somehow, all of the other animals here (the ones that don't eat baby birds) got to these shores on their own.
In the lawn this morning was a box turtle. A friend Kevin found one at his place the other day. Another friend tells the same story just hours before. So now we have an established population of at least three box turtles on Hatteras island.
I'm not aware of the readers personal experience with 'coons and 'possums but my experience is that they are right crafty critters. I have yet to meet a box turtle that I could describe as crafty but there was one in my yard.
If a box turtle could find its way from the mainland down seventy odd miles of seashore and end up in Buxton, I think its rather likely that a crafty mammal could do the same.
I was once told of a survey conducted a hundred years ago or so that claimed that there were no raccoons on Ocracoke. It wasn't all that long ago the Supreme Court heard the TVA vs. Hill case that claimed that protection for the snail darter outweighed the need for a dam to generate hydroelectric power. The environmental lobby claimed that the effected darter population was all that existed in the world and had to be saved.
The point of the story is that after SCOTUS ruled in favor of Hill, somebody actually went looking for these fish and found that in fact there were bunches of them all over the place. As dynamic and wind swept as these Islands are, it's no wonder no critters were found on O'coke.
Its this argument, that these animals are not native, that NPS uses to justify the slaughter of not just 'coons and possum but mink and otter as well.
Both mink and otter will eat snakes. Take those two out of the food chain and guess what happens. SNAKES!
A friend, Kim, called me a couple summers ago and was wondering if I had noticed the absence of rabbits on my way out to the beach. In the mornings and evenings, the road used to be lined with them. Though we don't have many snakes here large enough to engulf a full grown rabbit, we have a mazillion that are quite capable of consuming their young.
Has NPS altered the balance of nature? I don't know for sure but what I do know is that such a claim would probably bear more scientific weight than all of the DOW/Audubon "science" claims made to date. At least it makes sense and is actually relevant to the Seashore.
What NPS is doing is wrong. Particularly considering that under the enabling legislation they are required to protect and preserve the unique flora and fauna "now contained within this area" (which incidentally excludes plovers) within the area "reserved"as primitive wilderness.
I don't know if that answers your question or not, Chris. I tried.