The adage of “if you ain’t for ‘em, your against ‘em” seems to skew those outsiders who view the war. Locals are made to look like bloodthirsty rednecks with gun racks on the back window of their trucks, who don’t give a damn about the environment even though their ancestors came to work and stayed on the islands for the same reasons everyone goes to the Outer Banks—the environment. Locals support protecting endangered species, but they try to bring moderation to policies they feel are unreasonable and cut into everyone’s enjoyment of the beach.
Another policy is predator management. It seems that the only animals the NPS wants to protect are birds. What the NPS perceives as predators to the birds are trapped and destroyed. Last year the NPS identified 263 animal species, which were either removed from the islands or destroyed (the term used is euthanized). In 2010, 594 animal species were treated to the same “best management practice.” These targeted animals included: raccoons, minks, foxes, coyotes, opossums, nutria (a beaver-like animal) and feral cats. The feral cats are taken to the SPCA. What happens to them later is your best guess.
There are those animals that are not intentionally trapped but end up in the NPS traps including, rabbits, crows and otters. Most are live caught and released, but some don’t survive, like in years past the Diamond Back Terrapin, a turtle “of concern” that inhabits the coastal regions of the eastern U. S. The traps cause blunt force trauma, killing the turtles. For 2011, the NPS changed the type of trap used to minimize destruction of this species.
I’ve spent extensive time on the beach, most of the protected birds’ habitat, in the last thirty years, and although some of these predator species are nocturnal, I’ve never seen any of these animals on the beach. That’s not to say that on occasion it doesn’t happen, like this day when one fox did go on the beach. (A small creature on the left looking at the ocean.)
Yes, those are NPS personnel with their guns drawn. Makes me wonder if we should drop the term environmentalist from our language.