Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Southern Environmental Law Center photo.

During busy summer days more than 2,000 vehicles a day can be found cruising the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center. Southern Environmental Law Center photo.

For years folks have used off-road vehicles to negotiate some of the farther reaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. And for years the National Park Service failed to develop a management plan for those ORVers. And now it's time to pay the piper.

On April 3 a federal judge will consider a request by Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society to restrict ORV access to South Ocracoke, Hatteras Spit, North Ocracoke, Cape Point, South Beach and Bodie Island Spit for up to three years because of the presence of piping plovers, which have been considered a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act since January 1986.

The lawsuit contends the Park Service has run afoul of the National Park Organic Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the enabling legislation for the seashore, and the Park Service's own Management Policies by implementing an interim ORV management plan and failing to produce a long-term management plan.

The National Park Service’s Interim Plan and the ORV use it allows are substantially harming – and will continue to harm – important populations of endangered and threatened sea turtle species, threatened, special concern, or significantly rare bird species, and a threatened plant species, as well as other natural resources, serenity, and other recreational uses of the Seashore generally, reads one of the claims.

On Saturday, in a protest against the conservation groups, an estimated 200 ORV supporters showed up in a gale at Cape Point on the seashore to attend a rally.

In Sunday's editions of the Charlotte Observer, meanwhile, outdoors writer Tim Higgins satirized the situation by looking into the future to listen to a conversation between a young boy and his grandfather over why they no longer fish at Cape Point.

What's unfortunate is that the Park Service might have avoided this situation by acting sooner on developing a management plan for ORVs.



It's time for a little lesson in reality!

When you made the following statement I almost fell off of my stool.

1. Foxes are not native to Hatteras Island. They migrated over the Oregon Inlet Bridge.

Foxes ARE native to the total island chain located off of the coast of North Carolina simply because at one time in distant prehistory ( About 18,000 years ago at the start up of the last glacial melt which is ongoing today) these were not islands but were connected to the mainland with rivers and streams separating them. ( As the melt continues you will eventually see more islands on what is now the mainland areas of coastal North Carolina appear )

These animals even predate the last ice age and ascended from the rise of the mammals as we all did with varying amounts of evolutionary change taking place over the millennium's.

I am sure that Snowbird is aware of the Island Foxes that flourish and evolve on the islands off of the coast of California.

I tend to find it very doubtful that those crossed over to those island by bridge as they have been there long enough that evolution has dictated that they are smaller and different genetic characteristics have evolved in the species. (Evolution doesnt work really fast as 10k years is but one heartbeat on the evolutionary scale of time) Also one large contributing factor is that to put it simply there are no bridges!

I personally remember when I was about 10 coming to Hatteras Island for the first time and there was no bridge but there were Foxes present. They would be around the perimeter of our campsites waiting for the opportunity to scavenge our campsite for food when we were gone.

Snowbird, about your suggestion. I will respectfully decline as I believe the NPS is much more capable of this as long as no undue influence is exercised by outside sources.

Now for the fly in the ointment. There is a high probability that the Fox that is shown being exterminated in the photo would fall under the same NPS and ESA rules that govern the California Island foxes due to their evolutionary development as a separate sub species.

Morning BW!

Big Red

I admire the passion and concern -- on both sides of the issue -- that's been exhibited in this forum and, to a large extent, been wielded constructively, informatively, and without malice. What's transpiring at Cape Hatteras in many ways is a microcosm of what's transpiring at many parks, seashores, lakeshores and other units of the national park system.

Sadly, not all of those issues have such a concerned citizenry.

Hopefully, the end result at Cape Hatteras can be a model of sorts for how different groups can come together and reach an amiable consensus for how to move forward. Just as the plovers and other shorebirds shouldn't be wiped out, neither should the angling, tourism, or livelihoods that depend on Cape Hatteras.

It seems that developing a sound management plan that provides for this to transpire has been neglected for too long. That it's taken litigation to move that task forward is unfortunate.

Big EL:
I appreciate the economic in put regarding the Cape and this does shed some light on the complexities of the problem-the local Cape Hatteras economy (as well as it's surrounding wildlife). You do point out some potential political chicanery that might occur to obtain the Cape for future development...defintely a nightmare scenario...and God forbid! This is exactly what I was referring to when I mentioned Redwood Shores development in California. A land filled development that ruined some of the most beautiful inland bay marshes one can enjoy. Now it's a gated community for the well to do. I'm pretty sure the economic base of Cape Hatteras will stay, in which the local community depends on it for it's recreational needs. What I'm basically concerned about is, why hasn't there been a masterplan established along with the EIS. From what I gather here, there is non...just a vague usage plan. It's beyond me why you don't have one. With all those that have reflected there love and devotion for the Cape (on this blog) I would certainly demand vehemently for one and pursue it with earnest. A good comprehensive and holistic long range study the benefits the economy, the visitors and above all, a healthy viable habitat for it's wildlife. Again, thanks Big EL for shedding some light on the economic issues pertaining to Cape Hatteras. Incidentally, my nephew graduated from Duke (with his MBA) some years ago and raved how beautiful Cape Hatteras was at a sunset.
P.S. Jeff, yes I trail bike but I stay on the well established FIRE TRAILS! Have a good weekend fishing.
P.S.S. To all of you: Good luck with the bait and happy fishing!

"Incidentally, my nephew graduated from Duke (with his MBA) some years ago"

Well, there you go. That's the whole problem here.

Just kidding...GO HEELS!!

As far as the concerns about overdevlopment along the coast, you have to remember that the land betweent eh villages on Hatteras Island CANNOT be developed. It will never be developed. So you have the small villages and then you have miles and miles of totally undeveloped seashore between them. Overdevelopment is definitely becoming an issue on the NC beaches that are not part of the National Seashore Recreation Area, but not here.


This need for a plan has been made very clear to all concerned over the last 4 years. What has everybody inflamed right now is a format for developing a plan is in place and the process is underway. Regulated Negotiation was agreed upon as the format that would be used to arrive at an acceptable plan. All interested parties were given an opportunity to be selected to sit at the table and help formulate a management strategy. Rules for conduct, and an interim strategy for managing the park was put into place by the NPS. This plan includes provisions that where accepted by all parties, enclosures and protections for migratory and endangered species and ORV corridors around the enclosures.

One of the rules of the Regulated Negotiation is that no party involved, shall file suit during the process and all parties will negotiate in good faith to reach a general consensus. Buy filing suit in Federal court, the DOW and associated parties have violated this rule and now put the whole "agreed upon" process in peril.

I'm sure that you are aware that the D.O.W., Audubon Society, Blue water Coalition and others are extremely well funded and therefore can afford a long drawn out and expensive pursuit of their goal. If you don't trust what I'm telling you, do the research. I assure you we have. The goal of these groups is to "completely" remove all human interference with what they perceive as a bird in immediate danger of disappearing forever. They pursue this goal blindly without taking into consideration facts that don't fit their agenda. In order to achieve their goal, in their opinion, some things will need to be sacrificed, namely, access to the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. In plain language that means, no ORVs, no dogs, and no people will be allowed on the shores, ocean or sound side.

Sounds extreme doesn't it, especially when you consider that there are eight villages and towns established within the park.

We, on the side of free and open access for all Americans, have gone out of our way to compromise with the D.O.W. To accommodate them and their declared need for protection of species determined to be threatened or endangered. However it has become increasingly clear over the years that this debate is not about birds but about access. History has proven that the more we give the more they take and that they will not stop until they have achieved their goal of turning this park into a wildlife preserve closed to all but a few biologists.

The current tactic for this is the lack of a plan for management of the park ordered by President Nixon and not implemented by the NPS. In other words...a loophole.

The environment here has remained stable, plants, animals, people and ORVs have co-existed here since this area was first colonized. There have been changes to be sure, Hurricanes, the establishment of Villages and mild growths in population have occurred. But to this day Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area remains one of the most pristine and beautiful beaches in the world.

We are a David in a struggle with Goliath. If my dire predictions in a previous post don't come to fruition, what then and to whose benefit will this battle be for. If the Environmentalist groups have their way, the island will become a ghost town, the Bonner Bridge will collapse and the island will revert to just another sandbar in the middle of the ocean.

So ask yourself....Should all enjoyment of one of God's greatest gifts to man be restricted to a few scientist and biologist. Should the residents of Hatteras Island whose families date back to the very establishment of life on the island be told that they have to leave and that they no longer have an ancestral home? Should we, as law abiding, hard working Americans accept that we have no right to enjoy the beauty and wonder of this magical place?

I hope you will join us in our struggle.

I go to the Outer Banks at least 4 times a year. Every year it is the same sight, 100’s of ORV driving recklessly over duns, through nesting grounds which are not marked at all, killing all wildlife in their way…. I even saw one ORV chasing down helpless chicks and killing them just for the fun. Oh wait my mistake what I meant to say is that 80% of the beach is wide open and free from ORV, not because they are limited but because everyone goes to the same few spots (hence the crowded picture, Its only like that a very small percent of the time. Everyone pretty much drives in the same ruts as the vehicle in front of him, at a ridiculously slow speed. Everyone respects the clearly marked nesting signs where ever they may be. Each ORV is a licensed and inspected vehicle, not ATV’s Motorcycles, etc jumping duns like other beaches. Most if not everyone is very respectful. In fact my family started going to the OBX instead of Myrtle Beach because it is definitely less crowded and 99% cleaner beaches. In fact when a huge cargo shipped spilled 1000’s of ceiling fans and tons of Styrofoam into the ocean only to be washed up on the beach, my family and I traveled 748.5 miles to Avon to help clean it up. I guarantee you there were far more ORV drivers, locals, and fishermen out there then the 2 Environmentalist I met. That’s right only 2 (I’m sure there were more, but I met plenty of people that day). Now about this bird problem, it is not the ORV that are killing the birds, it is the birds who choose to nest on a strip of beach that has water only a few hundred yards from it on either side. Every major storm will wipe out the population of all chicks who cannot escape to higher ground. Foxes and Raccoons can’t be trained not to eat eggs or chicks of certain birds. Every time I see a nesting area that is roped off, or a game warded/ranger who lead ORV’s past the nesting area, people are very cooperative and the last thing they have on their minds are hurting the birds. They are just there having a good time with their friends and family enjoying God’s creation. Now I know you do not believe me. (The rest of this sentence was edited to remove an unnecessary attack.) But the solution would be to focus your energy and resources toward saving the birds. Maybe building some sort of shelter, maybe a relocation program (from the storms, not the ORV’s they do that on their own) or setting up some more stable fencing to keep out the Raccoons and foxes. Anyway, it just seems foolish to punish the folks who are probably doing more for the environment, such as traveling 100’s of miles spending 1000’s of dollars in a local community that puts so much of their hard earned revenue back into protecting the environment, then to come up with an actual solution. In fact the enviro’s are going to really screw over these birds, much more than any ORV did. Thank about it, the people who care most about the OBX and keeping it natural are the ones who live there. That is why you do not see large hotels, or why it is not overly commercialized like Myrtle Beach, Daytona Beach, etc. However without the ORV it is going to be so hard to get to the beach, people are going to stop coming. The money that is used to protect wild life will fade away, and the whole local economy will suffer a huge loss. Sure they may be some tourist who take the lighthouse tour and who drive up and down hwy 12 to look at the birds, but people are not going to drive hours past other beaches, to walk farther and fish less. Pretty soon the state will not have the money/interest in protecting the OBX from eroding away and then the little communities known as Buxton, Avon, Hatteras, Ocracoake will be nothing more than a sand bar that is washing more and more into the sea, then where will your birds go? Do you think they would wish they had their miles of roped off protected area? I bet they would.

The Bodie Island Spit is not capable of holding 1000 vehicles as stated at one time. There is not enough land mass to handle that number unless they are stacked upon each other.

Someone is using numbers for their own design.

Thanks to all the folks that have posted and shown you care on both sides of the issue!

Yes even you BW!

Big Red

Snowbird, you continue to amaze me. So here's some more facts for you to ignore.
73 miles of ocean beach on Hatteras Island, less than half of that is open to ORV access in the Winter and roughly 25% or less during the breeding season depending on the size and scope of the closures. The remaining portions of beach are closed for nesting, safety and seasonal closures. The seasonal closures exist to provide pedestrian access in an ORV free zone and for years now, the majority of them have remained closed year round in spite of the lack of pedestrian traffic.

The picture used in the article is of the beach on the north side of Oregon Inlet on Memorial Day weekend and doesn't come close to an average weekend usage. Average usage during the summer puts less than 50 vehicles in that same mile and change of beach. Assuming the beach isn't covered with water. By the way, that will happen today, tonight and tomorrow because of the winds.

On the other side of the inlet is Pea Island. No ORV access at any time. And yet no Plovers and breeding success for the other birds is no greater than in areas where ORV traffic is allowed in the proximity of breeding closures.

The majority of Hatteras Island and almost 90% of Ocracoke are part of the CHNSRA and absolutly no development will ever occur there. So nothing like the nightmare you describe in your back yard will happen here. Again, I suggest you go to Google Earth and have a peek.

You mentioned an EIS...that can mean one of two things. If youre referring to an envirnmental impact study, the EIS reguarding ORV useage showed No Significant Impact. The same is true about the EIS reguarding the replacement of the Bonner Bridge.

If youre referring to an Economic Impact study...the data that the Voglesoong study contains; that which DOW, Audubun, and SELC like to tout shows minimal economic impact by closing the beaches. Not hard to do when you dont bother to survey beach users and buisness owners and restrict your survey to a smattering of visitors to the lighthouse and some windsurfers at canadian hole neither of whom need four wheel drive or beach access.

Compaction studies have been attempted on our beaches in an effort to determine if ORV usage harmed the beaches. The problem was/is that every time it rains all compaction data is erradicated. You cant find impact where none exists. In fact, with todays winds and tonights rains, when I head out to the Point in the morning at dawn, there will be no tire tracks or ruts. Just a pristine beach. We enjoy perhaps the most dynamic beach system on the planet. Our beach changes shape daily. Not because of ORV traffic, just plain 'ol nature.

Again, this is not a zoo. The birds are not required to nest within the bounds of the park. The N.C. bird survey which was just released shows increased success in breeding. Especially within sight of the Park.

ORV use within the park has been on the decline since the mid '90's, bird closures have been erected earlier and they are larger than ever. But that has had no real impact on breeding success.
2007 was one of the most successful breeding seasons for Plovers in years. But it wasn't the larger, earlier closures that did was the lack of storms during breeding season. You may scoff at that but bear in mind that the vast majority of these islands rest less than 8 feet above mean sea level. Even a reasonable storm can flood this place closing the highways and cutting off our access to higher ground. In fact, that happened just last saturday. And might happen again today. And when the highway is flooded, all of the beaches are too; meaning any Tern, Plover, Skimmer etc. looses their nest and chicks. And what the water doesn't get, the ghost crabs do. Please explain to me how my truck on the beach has any effect on the power of mother nature.

This place is unlike anything you've probobly ever seen in your life. And we do a fantastic job of maintaining it. If I were a millionare I'd offer to fly you out here so you could see it for yourself. Id take the time to show you how things work out here, thirty miles out to sea. You would be in awe. But you would leave with an understaning you dont have now. And in all likelyhood, youd want to stay forever.

my $.02


OK Snowbird, with all of this, you still don't get it.
1) The sportsmen that use the ORV's are the best protection the resource has. They bring more resources and footprints to bear when needed than any other group is willing or able to do. Why do you refuse to akcnowledge that or your lack of knowledge about the situation? Wetlands in Cali are far from the eco-system of the OBX.
2) If the average fisherman on the OBX sees someone "raping" the resource, it will be a very bad day for the perpetrator, guranteed. The fishermen I refer to are not the holiday tourist that come once a year, I am talking about a group of very motivated individuals who have spent a ton of time and money to master one of the most specialized forms of fishing ever known. All the time and effort required to master this sport requires the participant to revere the resource fully.
3) You only pick the bits and pieces of the situation and comments that are inflamatory. The vehicles are no detriment to the environment on Hatteras when compared to the crap in the rain (some of which came from good ole Cali) and the fertilizers and waste in the water dumped from all areas east of the crest of the Blue Ridge.
4) Bottom line is, it is NOT your back yard. I do not pretend to be well informed about the plight of the Blacktail deer and how they are dealing with the huge encroachment of humans in California but I am willing to bet I know more about deer overpopulation and vehicular incidents involving deer there than you know about the beaches of Hatteras.

I and no one else who has posted here wants to see any damage caused to this awesome resource but we appreciate it because we are allowed to use it. We recently began paying for a special fishing license to fish coastal areas. There were complaints but about 5% were about the license, the other 95% were about the fact that the majority of this money will be tapped into for other projects and not used for conservation efforts and habitat improvements as it is earmarked.
The economic impact will stretch hundreds of miles from Hatteras if the resource is closed. Tackle shops from far away will have no customer for a surf rod or a rod spike.
There are two positives from this issue though:
1) The issue is motivating the real protectors of the resource, the outdoors enthusiast who use it.
2) I have been surf fishing seriously for 15 years and I have never joined the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association or the Outer Banks Protection Association but the radical movements of "Conservation" groups have caused me to write the check!

Somebody please post contact info for these two groups for the benefit of myself and other enthusiasts who have been slack. I just hope it's not too late.

One other comment. Relook at the pic of Oregon Inlet on Memorial Day clearly a beautiful holdiday weekend and a "worse case" scenerio for ORV congestion.

Now look to the left of the pic. Nothing but sand. Everything to the inside of the symbolic fencing (stakes with twine ) is off limit of ORVS. Out of sight is a large pond that opens to the Pamlico Sound with a good foraging area. Except for this a narrow strip, the Oregon Inlet spit is reserved for the wildlife.

And it should be easy to image a Nor'easter or a hard Sou'wester (calling for 30-40 mph SW tonight) pushing water up & flooding entire of spit at high tide and rubbing out the ORV tracks.

What is most disappointing about this lawsuit is Superentendent Murray did a wonderful job of balancing the needs for the nesting birds and turtles while allowing access when practical. The ORV groups bought into the process and I heard very little serious complaints.

The plovers did well in spite of the storms and the predation.

Could it be that DOW, Audubon and SELC are afraid that another successful season will show that active and aggressive (and transparent) managment by the NPS under Murray's leadership can balance wildlife protection and ORV access?

But then, this is really not about the birds.

I never saw anyone other than some of the park rangers giving out trash bags. I filled up about 5 they gave me, and they took it off of the beach after I did. And the insurance company for the freighter brought in a big crew of folks who cleaned the entire beach ... I saw them in the Cape Point bird area with a park ranger watching over them.

That fox didn't have any kits in the fall/winter. Fox reproduce in the spring. Why the embellishment?

The plover is a native on the entire eastern seaboard and the gulf coast. Cape Lookout is the extreme southern end of its breeding range, not Cape Hatteras. How many plover does Lookout have? North Carolina appears to be the only state in the U.S. with plovers present year-round. Any field guide would show you that.

From reading the injunction request, your favorite exotic and non-native predators are a threat to more than the plover. Funny, it seems to me that if the locals and ORVers would have cooperated in removing the invasive predators, this injunction probably wouldn't be happening, and I wouldn't be wondering about my vacation plans. I was driving through Avon last summer and there were cats running around all over the place. I couldn't believe it. Might as well store nucular waste in the backyard, it's no less detrimental to the environment than a cat running loose outside.

Why go to Cape Point to "protest"? It seems if these extremists had any gonads at all, they would be inside the Federal Courthouse on 4/4 and let the judge know how they feel.


Just a brief suggestion that may make you life easier in the future.

It is often easier to not sound like a total fool if one knows his / her facts!

In the future it would probably serve you in good stead to know things about what one espouses to have knowledge of!

Below you will find a little jewel plagiarized from the Animal Diversity Web sponsored by the University of Michigan.

"The annual estrous period of female red foxes last from 1 to 6 days. Ovulation is spontaneous and does not require copulation to occur. The exact time of estrous and breeding varies across the broad geographic range of the species: December-January in the south, January-February in the central regions, and February-April in the north. Males will fight during the breeding season. Males have a cycle of fecundity, with full spermatogenesis only occurring from November to March. Females may mate with a number of males but will establish a partnership with only one male. Copulation usually lasts 15 or 20 minutes and is often accompanied by a vocal clamor. Implantation of the fertilized egg occurs between 10 and 14 days after a successful mating. Just before and for a time after giving birth the female remains in or around the den. The male partner will provision his mate with food but does not go into the maternity den. Gestation is typically between 51 and 53 days but can be as short as 49 days or as long as 56 days. Litters vary in size from 1 to 13 pups with an average of 5. Birth weight is between 50 and 150 g. The pups are born blind but open their eyes 9 to 14 days after birth. Pups leave the den 4 or 5 weeks after birth and are fully weaned by 8 to 10 weeks. Mother and pups remain together until the autumn after the birth. Sexual maturity is reached by 10 months."

Our period of estrous may vary 30-60 days here on the outer island and occur any time from mid Oct to mid Jan with actual birth occurring anywhere from early / mid December till late Feb / mid March. I have no idea what the reason behind the variations are but have often speculated that it may be due to the seasonally warmer weather we often have or the appearance of an unexpected cold period in late October.

Tight Lines
Big Red

I''m for more ORV driving on the beach, but that would entail blowing up Bonner bridge, or letting it fall into the inlet, which ever comes first, and bulldozing the dunes from Pea Island to Ocracoke inlet. That would require anyone wanting to travel the island to do so w/4-wheel drive after arriving by ferry and it would partially begin to restore the habitat required by all the species that nest on the OBX. It would also include not closing new inlets.
Why should the U.S. and North Carolinian taxpayers continue provide the Golden Goose for the OBX businesses? How many millions has NCDOT spent to support their profit margin? How many millions has the park service spent to support their profit margin? What's been their contribution to the Park? (answer: nada)
Sorry if I don't feel sorry for the "businesses" who in turn break it off in we tourists during the season. As far as I can tell, the Park Service is obligated to serve the interests of the nation, not a bunch of businesses.

OK, if you think the locals get special privileges guaranteed to them when the seashore was formed, then let the real locals stand up. Pull out your family trees and if you can prove that you are descended from an Midgett, O'neal, Gillikin, Willis, or one of the 10 or so island families let's give you a special pass to continue to have your right to access the beach. The rest of you "locals" who moved from Jersey or have been coming for vacation for 30 years don't get squat.


I'm not for more ORV driving on the beaches but I am for informed, controlled ORV driving as dictated by the ever changing seasons and habitat need of the affected areas.

Now you mentioned Bonner Bridge!

I've been waiting for someone to do that, kind off like the little kid that can't read sitting outside waiting for the candy store to open. He knows it's gonna happen he just don't know when.

You don't realize it but you actually hit the proverbial nail dead on the head.

In the replacement proposal for the Bonner Bridge there have been two major ideas that received attention.

One is the short bridge proposal over Oregon Inlet that would actually parallel the present location and drop all traffic back onto Pea Island at the south end of the bridge for their continued journey to the promised land. Unfortunately the road to the promised land goes smack dab through the middle of a Wilderness Area slightly more than one quarter mile wide at it's widest point.

Now the plot thickens. Option two as they call it is still a bridge over Oregon inlet but it is also a total bypass of the Pea Island National Wilderness area. This would be accomplished by the installation of either a bridge or causeway that would run South out in the sound at least one eighth of a mile from the island and return to the highway and follow it's original path just above the village of Rodanthe.

The advantages are as follows:

1. You actually could as you put it bulldoze the dunes and also the road in an area that constitutes almost one fourth of the total area of the CHNSRA.
2. Approximately six thousand acres of actual wilderness area would suddenly appear in it's true form and provide undisturbed habitat for a myriad of species. ( I suspect that with the dunes and man gone the Plovers would love the area and would finally have a true suitable habitat instead of having to settle for a man made substitute)
3. Road maintenance cost would fall dramatically as this stretch of road bed is subject to far more wash over than any other on Hatteras Island which results in astronomical upkeep and replacement cost.
4. A new man made inlet could indeed be opened above Rodanthe where mother nature is presently and constantly trying to do so.
5. With the return to true wilderness and the new inlet in place all truly non native species could be relocated and I mean actually relocated!
6. It would create one of the best and largest fishing habitats on the central east coast for a myriad of species. (A bit selfish on my part but I just had to throw that in.)
7. Even though it would be the more expensive of the two options it would actually over time be far cheaper when one considers all of the ongoing cost associated with the short bridge option!
8. The naturally occurring rise in sea level which will put most of this areas roadbed either underwater or on a causeway over the next fifty year period could be avoided for this area.

Alas though the advantages of the second option are so great that it doesn't stand a proverbial snowballs chance in hell of happening when one considers and applies the inevitable 360 degree rule of governmental decision making as is surely applied to all decisions that both the state and federal government become involved in!

Tight Lines
Big Red

Big Red

According to all the scientific literature (found in scientific journals) I can find, fox have pups mid-March in the South and mid-April in the North - on average.
Even if they began breeding in early December as your source suggests, they wouldn't have pups until the end of January, or the first of February at the earliest. I even called some professional trappers I know and none I spoke to said they have ever caught a nursing female in December or January, or even heard of one being caught.
Try using Google Scholar.

But we all know if that fox had been female (hasn't been verified) and had pups, it wouldn't have been hanging out on the beach for hours, it would have been nursing the pups.


The said animal was not hanging out on the beach but had been jumped by the park service along with several other species that were caught up in a sweep of the dune line back. The said fox was lucky enough that it escaped the removal process that occurred behind the dunes. It's luck though ran out when it was trapped between the rangers and the ocean on the beach.

As far as breeding and birth periods what you said in your area may well be true, but in our unique ecosystem it isn't. As stated it may occur as early as mid October / mid November in our system and as late as may I add mid February as I was just corrected by a friend from NC State University.

Now in North Carolina proper (mainland / middle of state the periods fall more into the late Jan, early March / April mold, unfortunately there is never an early fall mating season as you stated that you have in your area. In our area and most of the rest of the us that would be highly improbable but who's to say as I am convinced it varies widely by region.

Of course I personally feel that if one looked hard enough due to unexpected habitat and species occurrences a fall mating could be possible.

One must take into consideration the dramatic changes in habitat that occur from region to region and realize that not every species follows the accepted pattern as put forth in reference material for areas other than those forced to do so in certain areas as dictated by severe and well defined seasonal climate changes that occur.

The plover is a prime example of this. I use to place them in a predefine time line for courtship, mating, nesting and fledgling because the book said so and if the book said it it had to be!


I pointed out "The Book" to a fishing challenged individual once when he made mention that he had seen a pair of Plovers in courtship at Hatteras inlet split. Well the next day I was there fishing and guess what.

There were two pairs not one exhibiting this behavior. I went home and thre away the book!

One thing that has always intrigued me about many of the animal species located here on the island is the often diminutive size that they still posses at full maturity. This includes both the Deer and Fox.

Tight Lines
Big Red


You're making up stuff now, so it does no good to even discuss this issue. There was no sweep of the dunes for anything that day. According to fishermen who were there, the fox had been there since before sun-up and was still there when the reg-neg group showed up at the Point. Bob E./John C. would tell you the same thing I just did.
Good fishin'


My account comes from two fisherman who were there also.

Ed Shipley and Mark Bowland.

Mark said the fox had definitely not been there since daylight and the best he could figure no longer than a few minutes when he saw it. Ed said he couldn't say because he only saw it when Mark pointed it out.

Mark stated that the two men and one woman from the USDA were working the area between Buxton Woods and the pond behind 44.

Ed said they had been there since daylight about a half mile south of 44 when this group appeared from behind them through the dunes.

He said he was going back to shall we say relieve himself and it startled him when from the opposite direction three people suddenly appeared.

He stated that he stopped and talked to the group and basically asked them what they were doing.

He and Mark both said that all three had I.D tags and they told him they were working contract for the USDA. He said the rough looking guy said they had been and I Quote " been walking through these damn skeeter hell holes every since 04 tramping back and forth up and down these dam island swamps".

Mark went on to say the woman said that the only reason they were there now was because fox tracks had been reported and a woman keep calling it in demanding to know when something was going to be done and their boss said and I Quote " get off your a**e* and get down there, I don't want to hear this s**t no more, clean up the whole damn area" so she said they had been stuck here for the last week.

When I was talking to them last night and e-mailed them your post this morning they both said what hell's he talking about there wasn't no one else out there anywhere near us except for a red Suburban about a hundred yards below us and we weren't never near the point when that ranger shot that fox above us. Mark also said who is this a****** there wasn't any committees out on the point that day, Hell, there wasn't never more than two or three trucks down there all daylong and we where there for before sunup till dark!

Now I would believe these two gentlemen because they were still sitting there when I drove up after lunch and were still there when I came back by about dark even in the rain. I would especially especially believe them above someone that doesn't even have nerve enough to sign their name to a post.

Tight Lines
Big Red


red showed me your message on this board. i only got one thing to say. bull****. what bigred said covers it right well. exctep for one thing i just pointed out to him. thats isnt one of the fox shots i took that day. the shots i took were flashed pointin north above 44 and the one he showed us on this site is lookin south and their wasnt a grey truck parked below us anywhere in sight.


For the fishermen who complain that it would be inconvenient to lug some tackle gear to the beach, over the sand:

You driving right up to the water's edge to fish is as lame as bubba parking on the roadside to shoot deer from his truck.

It's too bad Apophis is predicted to miss.

Ya'll are simply mistaken. I learned about it the day it happened from a reg-neg member who was out there that day when it was shot, as part of a group meeting with representatives of the park. I don't know if they were on the Point, or simply at "the Point."
I suggest you check your facts (and dates).

i ain't mistaken. after talking to several folks after getting back down this mornin if the shot red posted up was the time yousaid and what you say is right and i dont have no reason to doubt it then there were two diffrent times and foxs cause the shot red posted werent shot by me.


A Quote by martin luther. Come now.

I have been to the previously mentioned beaches and hate all the vehicles there. I think they should limit the amount of vehicles per day.

We are caretakers of the earth but not at the expense of ourselves.

Thank you for a rational answer, finally -- from someone.

Boy, this thread sure has deteriorated.

As far as wildlife being eradicated in order to protect selected species the facts are available. It has been done and will more than likely continue.

Anonymous (not verified)
On March 15th, 2008
Why go to Cape Point to "protest"? It seems if these extremists had any gonads at all, they would be inside the Federal Courthouse on 4/4 and let the judge know how they feel.

I was troubled by this post.

First the "protest" was in fact a peaceful gathering of concerned citizens, they hardly qualify as extremist. In most "protests" there are banners and signs complaining about one thing and declaring another. The only signs present that day on the beach were American flags.

Overall your statement is inflammatory, immature and shows a lack of respect for anyone who might have a viewpoint that differs from yours.

On your last point so eloquently stated. I can assure you that there will be concerned citizens at this hearing. This ruling will have a direct affect on their livelihood and their future.

Once again, all I hear is half the story. The Audubon and DOW collect money from people across the United States to fight their personnal battles by publishing untrue stories and numbers. The Park has done a good job with the shorebirds and no piping plover has ever been run over by an ORV! The picture shown was the most crowed day ever and was taken on the 4th of July I bet. These two groups had a chance to go to the table with eveyone else but instead filed a lawsuit. Real brave, real American......I just sat 8 hours with their lawyers and I have never seen more deceitful people in my life. Know your facts before you speak your mine.

So you're saying they shot a second fox which they did not report? Are your photos online anywhere? Can you post them?

Big EL
Maybe that anonymous has been reading too much of "The General's" militaristic rhetoric over at OBXconnections? Or maybe they found the posting of the "opposition's" home addresses at the Post Office as referenced earlier, "extreme"? There obviously can be extremists on both sides of an issue.

Geez you guys stop the nit picking and get on with resolving the problems at the Cape with some concrete solutions.

I agree with you Snowbird06.

Unfortunatley this is typically what happens when outlandish claims are responded to with intelligent and accurate facts.


"Harp (not verified)
On March 19th, 2008
A Quote by martin luther. Come now.

I have been to the previously mentioned beaches and hate all the vehicles there. I think they should limit the amount of vehicles per day.

We are caretakers of the earth but not at the expense of ourselves."

How arrogant to think that the earth depends on us, humans, for it's survival, but thats another debate!

I'm curious Harp......How did you access the beach when you went there?

Those of you that think a permit system is the answer, be aware, in situations where this is done, a limited number of passes is sold each year. If you don't get one....too bad. Usually the rental homes each have a pass for the renters, but no temporary passes are available for the day-tripper or weekend visitor.

Up north, if I'm not mistaken you have to purchase the passes in person, not online.

Ever been to a beach where they limit the number vehicles on the beach at one time??

Lines develop, one vehicle leaves one is allowed on. So don't run to the store for more ice or to the rental house for the suntan lotion cause you'll have to wait in line like everybody else to get back on the beach. In the summertime, if you're not there early enough, it's possible that you won't be able to get on the beach at all. These type of regulated beaches usually don't allow people to stay on them after dark. No more sunrise or sunset walks on the beach.

But then we're not concerned about that. Whats important is that the wildlife is not disturbed.

Have a nice day!

As a lifelong North Carolinian, I have worked on the outer banks and members of my family have been going to Hatteras and Ocracoke for over 50 years. Being able to drive on the outer banks is one of the things that makes it special. However, we do need to take steps to preserve this precious resource. I think that those people who live there or spend a large amount of time living there should have the right to pay the price for a yearly permit to drive on the beach. People who come down just for a week or a weekend, often not knowing how to drive on the sand and getting stuck, should probably stick to the public "parking lot" beaches rather than driving out the point. Or, they will have to pay the yearly fee -- probably needs to be about $300 for the year -- to be able to drive on the beach. The folks that have homes down there will pay the money or find a friend with a permit. As for the thought that those who drive on the beach are not good stewards of the environment, it is false -- whenever we go on the beach we follow a strict "leave no trace" policy and even pick up trash left by others when we see it. And, we always abide by any NPS rules and avoid any contact with bird and turtle nesting sites.

Many of the people who enjoy fishing on the beach cannot afford a boat or an expensive charter trip -- fishing on the beach is a lifestyle for people like my father-in-law, and it should be preserved for those who are so dedicated to Cape Hatteras and the outer banks.

clearly NON of you treehugers have ever been to this beach or you would know that the people that cause the issues are the bird watchers, we fisherman stay on the surf area thats REGURALY underwater, thus any bird eggs in the driving area would be either destroyed by the currents or carried out to sea. Now the people I see walking in the "bird areas" are the people with 4 camras and 3 pairs of binoculars around there neck. In 19 years of going to the cape point I have never seen a person in a ORV intentional run over any type of wildlife.

From the Plaintiffs "Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Defendant-Intervenors (the “Motion”)."

The following is provided to illustrate how DOW, AS, and SELC are misrepresenting certain stated facts in their injunction. It is similar to misquoting or taking verses in the bible out of context.

This is how the present their introductory first fact:

"Congress created Cape Hatteras National Seashore in 1937, declaring that it be “permanently preserved as a primitive wilderness” and that “no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible [] with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna of the physiographic conditions now prevailing in the area.” 16 U.S.C. § 459a-2.

The above said fact was extracted in part and does not represent the true fact as written by Congress.

Here is what Congress actually states in 459a-2, "Except for certain portions of the area, deemed to be especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed, the said area shall be permanently reserved as a primitive wilderness and no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area.

The truth of the matter is that the areas DOW, AS, and SELC want to close are especially adaptable for recreational use, particularly to all the items listed by Congress and it is worth noting that ORV use is considered a recreational activity of similar nature.

The point of the matter is that once you start looking at the real facts, it is clear that DOW, AS, and SELC are misleading.

Those of you posting pictures of that fox have NO IDEA what you are talking about. The Superintendent Mike Murray set the record straight at the last negotiated rulemaking meeting as was reported in the local press. The SUPERINTENDENT gave the order to shoot the fox because it was acting erratically and in his professional judgment could have been rabid. The fox did not have pups, so that's a complete falsehood. According to the Park Service, the fox may be have been deliberately released on the island. Might that have been done to increase plover predators?

Be sure nice if some of the more rabid ORV advocates would get their facts straight.

I couldn't agree more with Jimmy, my wife and I have been visiting Hatteras for the last couple years and it is now a mandatory vacationing spot. To close the beaches to all ORV traffic is just ridiculous not to mention the economic impact on all the local business. One more point before I go, these people that are saying that the ORV's are leaking oil on the beach.. Lets think about this, now I'm sure there are some ORV's not up to par out on the beach but for the most part I believe most people are being responsible with there maintenance. But my point is, every boat in the water is pushing it's exhaust through its out drive or into the air. EVERY boat is directly injecting gas and oil into the water. Whats next? shutting down every charter fishing outfit to eliminate water pollution? How reasonable does that sound? Now how come I'm not hearing these tree huggers crying about the boats . CLOSING THE BEACH IS NOT THE ANSWER lets work together and come up with a solution we can all live with.

You want a reason. Here you go. If you take away Offroad access YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE alternate access. This is public land. So, they don't like 2200 vehicle on 80 miles of shoreline. Then PAVE access to the shoreline and Provide 4400 parking spaces.

No one has proved the decline of any species in the Cape Hatteras Seashore Receation Area. So, this law suit and ruling is strict BS!

AND no one has proven ORV use is ruining the park.

I must have to sit u straight on our beaches. The picture u are speaking of looks to be Oregon Inlet "hot spot" it is. Not all of the beaches look this way. Trust me, i go surf fishing to get away from the lil town i live in to be in seclusion at the beach and to enjoy the beauty around me. There are many days in the summer and remind u on the weekends at that when the next vehicle is a mile away from me! Not so bad looking to me. So next time do ur homework, better yet Go to our "damn beaches and see for yourself and get educated on it"

What a comment to post. that fox looked pretty calm to be a sick one. i grew up hunting and a fox will sit and study you before fleeing. looked pretty innocent to me. but remind you of the massive round up of animals if you haven't read the 2007 piping plover report the NPS put out. Where did they take the animals too? Wildlife Services all over NC hasn't replied back to that comment but i bet PETA would.

After your comments it is obvious you have not been to the beaches your are so strongly trying to protect. I have been going to the Outer Banks for over 40 years. Do you drive a car? do you fly commercially? I am sure you do and by doing so you do more to ruin the environment that the vehicles on the beach.
The Outer Banks has been one the most beautiful beachs for 100's of years and in the time I have been enjoying it I have seen no significant change. It is allways beautiful and the wildlife is amazing. I have seen whales to turtles to every sea bird I can think of.
Your whining and complaining is sad and ignorant. No one mentions the 100's of othere potential reasons why the wildlife may be decreasing. Wall to wall with gas and oil dripping? Do better homework next time!

I have gone to the island for the last 13 years(sometimes twice a year)and the thing that alters the ecology is the big amount of people and new developments (a lot in comparison with 13 years ago). I remember the old Chicomacomico station. There wasn't anything there, but look now. The development of new houses brings trash, sewage and obviously the appropriation of a piece of beach!!! And someone is complaining about 2 miles used by 4x4's (the island has almost 40 miles)!! I asked HOW MANY MILES OF THE PERIMETER OF THE ISLAND ARE OCCUPIED by BACKYARD HOUSES. Please, whoever is behind this needs to put more brains before bubble nonsense solutions. I am in favor of saving the little birds and let the people fish in peace. In general fishermen are not destructive human beings. Moreover, they are lot more sensible than many other human beings. Hoping the best for the endangered species birds and humans.

I don't think people realize that you CAN NOT access most beaches without a ORV. The picture above showing bumper to bumper vehicles also was done on a holiday and not pictured is the roped off area south of Cape Point for birds. That's why all the cars are so congested! Just feels like lies. I've been going to OBX for years and I see more people caring for the enviroment than destroying the dunes and beaches. Was there last week and merchants are reporting 40-50% decrease in business. Was also told property values are down 30%. Where is a happy medium?

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area was established for recreational use. It is not a Park and it will never be the wildlife sanctuary you want it to be. Read the facts. do not take the opinion of me or anyone else. I love that beach and driving on it with my family is what I plan to do for many many more years to come. Even if I have to buy my own judge like the competition did.

[Ed: This comment was edited.]

I would love to see the source for your claim about the foxes not being indigenous. I don't think it matters? I do not think it is right that they have been exterminated from Hatteras Island. Plovers are not indigenous, either.

wow controversial subject. I just visited your beautiful island of hattaras and love it. I never seen so many birds in one place (pea island). the beach was uncrowded, I spent alot of time at emerald isle and atlantic beach, always crowded no matter when you go, I enjoyed the nature trails and I got a little jealous when taking the ferry to ocracoke from hattaras when I saw the vehicles on a remote area fishing. I saw so many birds while on that ferry I was tempted to just keep riding it back and forth. I saw those orv instead of being mad I was jealous. I wanted to enjoy walking on the water of pamlico, (it really did look like some guy was walking on water, probably just shallow sand dune there)
the birds galore, so many gulls, cormorants and did I see a couple of anhingas? while driving up and down the island, I did notice alot of areas of just sand dunes and native grasses, it looked like from what I could tell to be plenty of places for the beautiful winged crittors and swimming ones too. no where to park a regular car on the side of road so as to walk over the dunes to get to the water, I wanted so much to access the sound but alas only a couple of access points day use areas. next year we will have suvs to at least being able to drive through the water that accumulated on the road after a storm. I wanted to hike some more of the trails at cape hattaras light house but the storm made the road impassable, I had a very low car.
I doubt that orv are really that harmful, no more than say driving to the parks around here, or people hiking the trails or riding their bikes on the trails of ohio. it is the bad people who should be banned those who damage or are trashy, inconsiderant, not the good people. my guess, and only a guess is the enviromentalists really have a hidden agenda, animal saving is only a pretext, a front if you will to incite emotional response rather than logic. such people are called demagogs, stir up emotions rather than stir up the thinking faculties.
I am thinking, not sure tho, is that some big shot at the united nations or some weatlhy people bought up the island (as investments and buying gov debt) in secret but can't come clean or the people would know what is what and have tons of legal recourse to stop such a fraudenlent sale, and are using enviromental concerns, believe me if they can't use that they will use something else, to literally destroy the economy of the island forcing people out so the big shots can move in. they did this to some island off of south america and it was to protect wildlife, guess what, they built a resort there for rich people after stealing the land from the natives.
so people before you all go off half cocked do some thinking, some research, ask yourself what the real agenda is. there is no reason to hate people who you think are doing damage when in fact you have no evidence to that. after sand is sand it moves around, doesn't grow anything, believe me I visited the outer banks many times (hattaras only once tho) and animals prefer the inland areas for any breeding, the only creatures in the sand were those neat little crabs and plovers and sand pipers eating something in the sand and running from the waves. really cute little guys. the gulls were to busy watching the fishermen waiting for them to catch something or get a bite to eat.
the animals did not seem to mind me there, I guess we are part of the earth too, not some aliens from outer space, they would almost run into my lap as I sat there, the crabs were at my feet, they didnt seem to mind me either. the gulls around the ferry were close enough for me to touch, they didn't mind me there either.