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Bird Nests and Closures Spurring Civil Disobedience at Cape Hatteras National Seashore


How successful is the government's settlement of a lawsuit to protect threatened shorebirds and turtles from ORVs at Cape Hatteras National Seashore? NPS photo.

As more nesting plovers and oystercatchers lead to more temporary beach closures at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, it appears more folks are acting in civil disobedience to protest the closures.

The closures were authorized earlier this spring as part of a settlement aimed at finding a compromise between off-road vehicle use on the national seashore and those worried about threatened bird and turtle species being endangered by that traffic.

Of course, not everyone supports that settlement. Acts of vandalism and civil disobedience might be doing more harm than good for ORV enthusiasts, though, as the settlement allows the National Park Service to extend the size of closures when vandalism occurs.

Rangers on June 4th closed another section of the park beach due to a plover hatch. On Thursday, June 5th, several visitors expressed opposition to this closure. One person deliberately entered the area and was dealt with by law enforcement personnel.

Meanwhile, the size of another closed area was expanded due to an oystercatcher hatch.

On Friday, June 6th, the seashore reports that two people entered a closed area and were contacted by protection rangers. Uniformed personnel were stationed at Ramp 43 during peak visitor use hours over the weekend to prevent intrusions and provide information. A special use permit was granted for a group of 50 people who are opposed to the consent decree for a social event at Ramp 43. There were no incidents.


Good: the more closures the better. Too many people, not enough critters,...and not enough quiet space. Thank you GT

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Resource Management Weekly Field Summary; May 29 – June 4, 2008
(Bodie Island, Hatteras, and Ocracoke Districts)

This week 26 PEDESTRIAN Intrusions were reported, 2 at Bodie Island, 21 at Hatteras, and 3 at Ocracoke.....1 ORV intrusion at Bodie Island, and 1 at Hatteras....3 others * Kiteboarder was flying kite over closure south of Ramp 27. Pedestrians entered the same closure with a dog. Three bicyclists were found in the South Point closure on Ocracoke.

PIPL Update:
Bodie Island:
When Nest 6 was exclosed on 5/29 it was discovered that one of the eggs from the three-egg clutch was lost to probable avian predation. Both adults accepted the exclosure and incubation of the remaining two eggs continues.

Hatteras Island:
At Cape Point, Nest 4 hatched and the three chick brood is being monitored. Nest 5 (3 egg nest) continues to be incubated. Nest 9 was discovered on 6/3 as a single-egg nest and will likely be exclosed on 6/7 or 6/8. There is possibly another pair which is ranging from Cape Point to South Beach.

No PIPLs were observed at Hatteras Inlet this week.

Ocracoke Island:
No PIPL breeding activity was observed on the north end of the island, although 1 bird was seen foraging at the inlet. On the south end of the island, there are three active PIPL nests. Nest 2 is in the hatch window and is at 27 days of incubation at the time of this report. Nest 3 with two eggs continues to be incubated. PIPL Nest 8 was found with one egg on 5/30 and had three eggs on 6/3 Only one egg was in the nest when the exclosure was installed on the morning of 6/4. The closure was installed to prevent predation of the third remaining egg and in hope that a fourth egg would be laid. As of the evening of 6/4, there was no fourth egg and it appears the nest may have been abandoned. The loss of the eggs is attributed to probable avian predation.

Foraging PIPLs continue to be seen along the ocean shoreline within the closure.

Nests/Expected hatch data:
PIPL Nest 1 (Cape Point) was lost due to a storm event.
PIPL Nest 2 (Ocracoke) is within the hatch window.
PIPL Nest 3 (Ocracoke) is expected to hatch on or around June 13.
PIPL Nest 4 (Cape Point) hatched three chicks on June 3.
PIPL Nest 5 (Cape Point) is expected to hatch on or around June 13.
PIPL Nest 6 (Bodie Island) is expected to hatch on or around June 24.
PIPL Nest 7 (Ocracoke) was lost due to a storm event.
PIPL Nest 8 (Ocracoke) is expected to hatch on or around July 1 but may be abandoned.
PIPL Nest 9 (Cape Point) is expected to hatch on or around July 5.

Seven breeding pair of PIPLs have been confirmed on the Seashore thus far for 2008.

Am. Oystercatcher Update:
AMOY Update: (active = # of nests w/eggs (not hatched); hatched= # of nests w/ chicks)

27 total nests to date; 10 active nests; 6 nests hatched; 11 nests lost;
15 total chicks hatched; 12 unfledged chicks; 3* chicks lost; 0 fledged chicks
*One killed by sibling, two unknown.

Bodie Island:
1 active nest/0 hatched nests/3 nests lost
Green Island: 1 active nest/0 hatched nests/2 nests lost

Hatteras Island:
Bodie/Hatteras District (south of Pea Island NWR- Ramp 30), 2 active nests/2 hatched nests/2 nests lost
Hatteras District (Ramp 30 – Hatteras Inlet), 6 active nests/3 hatched nests/2 nests lost

Ocracoke Island:
0 active nests/1 hatched nest/2 nests lost

We have a total of 21 breeding pairs (including pairs that have lost nests) and there are at least 12 other possible pairs in territories which have yet to nest.

Colonial waterbirds:
Bodie Island:
A LETE colony 1 mile south of Ramp 4 had 23 LETE nests on 5/21. All the nests were lost during an overwash event on 6/2.
Green Island: A common tern (COTE) colony was documented on the north end of Green Island. On 5/27 there were five one-egg COTE nests. Black skimmers were present on the west end but no nests were documented. The island has not been visited during this report period.

Hatteras Island:
Bodie/Hatteras District (Pea Island - Ramp 30):
The LETE colony 2.1 miles south of Ramp 23 had 25 scrapes, 7 one-egg nests, 28 two-egg nests, and 4 three-egg nests on 6/3.
The LETE colony 1.1 miles north of Ramp 27 had 40 scrapes, 1 one-egg and 3 three-egg nests on 6/3.
The LETE colony 0.1 miles north of Ramp 27 was determined to be abandoned on 6/4 and the closure was removed.
The LETE colony 0.1 miles south of Ramp 27 had two nests and 12 scrapes on 5/30.
The LETE colony 0.3 miles south of Ramp 27 had 5 two-egg nests and 6 one-egg nests on 5/30.
The LETE colony 0.7 miles north of Ramp 30 is scheduled to be censused on 6/5.

Hatteras District (Ramp 30 – Hatteras Inlet):
The LETE colony just north of Ramp 34 had 3 three-egg nests, 28 two-egg nests, and 4 one-egg nests on 5/31.
The mixed colony in the center of the Cape Point pre-nesting closure had 21 LETE nests and 3 COTE nests on 6/1.
The LETE colony at Ramp 45 appears to consist of four pair of LETEs with only a single nest discovered to date.
The LETE colony 1.7 mi east of Ramp 49 had 3 three-egg nests, 58 two-egg nests, and 2 one-egg nests on 6/4.

Ocracoke Island:
The LETE colony at South Point is comprised of three sub-colonies. One colony had 36 nests on 6/4, another had 1 nest on 5/31 and the third had one nest on 6/1.

Other species of interest:
There is a confirmed Wilson’s Plover pair scraping on South Ocracoke. On 5/29 and 5/30 WIPL were seen in the dunes near PIPL Nest 2. On each occasion the bird was alert and vocal and flew out of the area when disturbed. One fresh scrape with tracks was found in the dunes and many tracks were in the area. This is the same area where WIPL and PIPL were seen in a territorial dispute on 4/30. The scrapes that were found on the soundside on 5/25 were probably WIPL, considering scrape and track size. Photographs of birds, scrapes and tracks were taken. Up to five WIPL were observed foraging in the big flats of South Point earlier this spring.

Two pair of Black-necked Stilts have been observed at Cape Point. On 5/31, one stilt was observed roosting in what appeared to be a nest scrape.

Sea turtle nests:

Weekly Nest Total: 3 loggerhead nests
Total Nests to date at CAHA: 5
Total False Crawls to date at CAHA: 5

Marine Mammals:
5/30 Dead bottlenose/common dolphin hybrid found north of Ramp 34. Frozen by NPS staff and transferred to NOAA on 6/4.
6/4 A fresh dead bottlenose dolphin found at north of Ramp 55 in Hatteras Village. Transferred to NOAA on 6/4.

Sea turtle Strandings (this week only):
6/1 Small green turtle found dead at Ocracoke Inlet on the soundside at South Point.
6/4 Female loggerhead found dead south of Avon Pier.

Closures - additions/modifications/removals:

Closure # Location Species Date Installed/Removed
Bodie Island
BH08-001-C S of Ramp 27 AMOY/LETE 5/29/2008
BH08-003-A 0.1 mi S of Ramp 27 AMOY 5/27/2008
BH08-005-C 1.5 mi S of Ramp 23 LETE 6/4/2008
BH08-006-R N of Ramp 27 LETE 6/4/2008
BH08-007-A 0.6 mi S of Ramp 27 AMOY 5/29/2008
BH08-007-R 0.6 mi S of Ramp 27 AMOY 6/4/2008
Hatteras Island
HI08-001-F Cape Point PIPL 6/4/2008
HI08-006-C Sandy Bay AMOY 5/30/2008
HI08-007-R S of Ramp 43 AMOY 6/2/2008
Ocracoke Island
OI08-004-B 0.8 mi S of Ramp 59 AMOY 5/29/2008
OI08-006-R 3.2 mi NW of Ramp 67 AMOY 5/29/2008

But you forget parks are for people to enjoy. The closures restrict anyone from using that portion of the park that historically has been open to park visitors to enjoy.

Please note that most of the "Civil Disobedience" is being committed by pedestrians, and not ORV's, at a ratio of~ 26:2. Unpopular regualtions are many times met with way more disobedience that has occured on Hatteras Island. I personally think that this speaks of the ongoing commitment of the majority of Hatteras and Ocracoke beachgoers to obey the NPS/Consent Decree rules, even though they disagree with them. You should point out these positive facts when you write about this area, and not just the perceived negative ones. Make a visit to the area and see for yourself!

Here's a link to an article in a Hatteras Island local newspaper. The article describes an Oystercatcher nest within feet of a 55 MPH highway, and the vehicles don't seem to bother the birds a bit. However, pedestrians DO seem to bother the birds, as they fly away at every approach.

Photographic proof included!

It just goes to show that these bird species ARE adaptable, and that ORV's are not the scourge of the beach, as many would have everyone believe.

No one has forgotten that our Parks are for the people of this country, the regulations put in place are because historically there are jerks who have no respect for our park property or the wildlife that lives there, to save them it is necessary to restrict some usage so other generations to come may enjoy them also.

You need to get a life,the birds have survived with the way things have been for years.Think how the local economy is affected by such a change.If the bird was really such a endanger species,all beaches in the United States would be closed.

And when was the last time you went and did something positve to help the area instead of complain how bad it is? Beach cleanup, informational courses etc....

It would appear from the detailed statistics which are only gathered by site visitation, that a self proclaimed elit group can wander the shores within their private bird santuary at the expense of all others. Arrogance by elite components of any society has always spawned reprocussions. While the birders proclaim the "rednecks with their trucks" are off the beach, the footprint of the homes and cottages on Hatteras are also a problem. But will that access be sacrificed for the well being of tha hatch?

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