Welcome Wednesday guests for November:
11/05 Maya Corrigan's Five-Ingredient Mystery, By Cook or By Crook.
11/12 Death by Blue Water, a scuba-diving adventure-mystery by scuba-diving author, Kait Carson.
11/19 Susan Van Kirk--Three May Keep A Secret.
11/26 Tagged for Death, a garage sale mystery by Sherry Harris.

Gloria Alden has released the fourth book, The Body in the Goldenrod, in her Catherine Jewel series. It's available in print and in eformat. Here are two links to the book: Amazon and Kobo. Put it on your "TBR" or Christmas list!

Carla Damron's latest project, THE STONE NECKLACE, a literary novel about five lives that intersect, and are forever changed, by a senseless accident, has been picked up by Story River Books for publication in 2016. Story River is an arm of the University of South Carolina Press and is under the leadership of editor-in-chief author Pat Conroy. Congratulations, Carla!


A great stocking stuffer, Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays is available at Wildside Press or Amazon. This anthology includes short stories by WWK bloggers Shari Randall ("Disco Donna") and E. B. Davis ("Compromised Circumstances").

KM Rockwood's short stories will appear in two anthologies. They are: "The Lure of the Owl" in Swamp Mansion and Other Dark Stories, to be released as a ebook, (great cover, KM!) and "Aunt Olga and the Werewolf" will be included in the third Creatures, Crimes and Creativity anthology released by Intrigue Publishing.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Environmentalists?

There are times when the irony of the world—our government and our policies—takes my breath away. I’m a frequent visitor to North Carolina’s Outer Banks because I’m a beach bum. That’s where I am right now as you read this blog. I go there because I love the environment—the ocean, the beach, the birds, the fish, dolphins, the boats, the warmth of the currents coming from the Caribbean, the humidity, the sun and blue sky. It’s where I commune with nature calming the rage of living in Northern Virginia.


The beaches of the Outer Banks are governed by the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS is supported (especially in legal action) by environmental groups, such as, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. None of us who love the Outer Banks is against protecting the environment and the species dependent on this environment to survive. But, due to NPS’s restrictions, war has broken out on various issues between the NPS and the locals, who depend on tourism for their livelihoods.

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.

One such policy requires people and other species to walk in the water rather than on the beach, if not you must levitate. During winter and spring, walking in the water can be a chilling experience. There is a “leave no trace” policy in force, which fails to recognize that the tide will wash away any horrible footprints left by visitors within twelve hours.

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.

7 comments:

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, it's distressing to hear that the NPS folks are killing off predator species. They should know that's a good way to throw the entire ecosystem out of whack. It will certainly be more deleterious than having people walk in the sand along the beach where the tide washes out all tracks twice a day.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Nowhere in the world do people like someone from the outside telling them what to do, and residents and visitors of the Outer Banks are no different.

One definition of environmentalists are those who advocate or work toward protecting the natural environment from destruction or pollution. None of us can be a pure environmentalist -- we live in a modern society.

Outer Bank residents and their visitors almost eliminated the piping plover. Just as "responsible" people eliminated the passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet and the heath hen to name a few.

Before the stringent regulations you complain about were put into place no piping plover chicks fledged on Hatteras in 2002 and 2004. With the regulations 10-15 fledged the last two years. The difference between none and ten is not insignificant as the article claims.

Sea turtle nests were also at record highs the last two years.

Predator control is used to relieve distressed species populations from one additional threat. It is done because it works--as evidenced by the results above.

It is not a first resort, but a last resort. It is not a long-term solution, but rather one management tool of many.

Once we decide to save a species (and whether or not we should is a different argument) then we must take the steps necessary to succeed.

The cozy relationship you postulate between the NPS and so-called environmental groups? Those groups sued the NPS because the NPS was not following the law and forced the NPS through a settlement to implement the "draconian" rules. Wary adversaries would better describe the relationship.

The fox the NPS killed? It was on the beach in daylight, which as you say is very unusual. Not only was this fox seen in the daytime, but it was fearless of the humans. The NPS says they killed it because they feared it was rabid. (It was tested and was not.)

How many of those who claim not to accept killing one animal to protect another are vegetarians? I'm not. People regularly kill chickens, turkeys, cattle, fish, crabs, lobsters and so on so that I may live. And certainly I don't have the excuse of trying to save a whole species -- I'm just feeding myself.

Do these same people complain when farmers trap, shoot and poison coyotes who are harvesting chickens from the coop? I doubt it.

And will these self-same residents who want the government off their backs now, refuse to accept federal funds to rebuild their bridges the next time a hurricane sweeps the area in a periodic natural cleaning of the landscape they have modified? I suspect not.

I agree that being inconvenienced is not fun. You didn't mention how many miles of Hatteras beaches you still have access to. Ultimately, this comes back to the question of whether or not we should try to save other species. I would answer yes. You may choose to answer no.

A number of your cohabitants of the outer banks are trying to have the laws changed so that ORVs will once again have untrammeled access to the beaches. They have gotten Rep. Walter Jones to introduce such legislation to repeal the NPS plan and allow complete access for ORVs. Should they succeed, not only will the piping plover be doomed, but so will any sense of the natural in the special place you love.

I've learned over time that no issue has only one side, and I am certainly not going to suggest the NPS is perfect in spirit or implementation.

Just as I no longer use DDT even though it worked very well and rue the day I could no longer use carbon tetracloride to clean stains
because of the environmental impact, I am willing to make those sacrifices for what I perceive to be a greater good.

But heck, if we didn't have differences of opinion, it wouldn't be a very interesting world.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I respect your opinion, Jim. But why did Obama open up the waters of the East coast to oil and gas exporation if the administration truely believed in saving the piping plover or sea turtles. All the NPS efforts will be wiped out along with everything else with one oil spill. Ask the folks along the gulf coast how environmentally secure their beaches are. All we are asking is that the beaches aren't totally blocked. The restricted areas are large. The open areas will be so crowded this summer, I fear violence.

Another aspect is that the NPS only counts birds where they think the birds should be nesting. They forgot that some of the piping plovers happen to like the roof of the Food Lion. No NPS personnel counting bird there!

PS--I participated in watching turtle nests last summer. Never got to see a boil. As I said, there are many locals who are interested in the environment, but with a more balanced policy.

Warren Bull said...

In New Zealand the conservation department has wiped out all land-based predators on some small islands close to the mainlands to give native birds a safe place to nest. Rats, stoats and cats were imported to the islands. The only native mammal is a small bat. The department's efforts have been successful in stabilizing shrinking populations of animals found nowhere else in the world. It still seems strange that the department is engaged in killing.

Gloria Alden said...

Like Jim, I'm an environmentalist and support the Audubon Society and various other environmental groups. I know there has to be a balance between preditor and prey. Unfortunately, we humans cause more damage to the ecosystem than any other creature. I shudder thinking of those 4-wheel vehicles tearing up the forests and beaches.

Because no one hunts or traps
raccoons anymore, they have become quite prolific which is a health hazard. Their scat has a bacteria that's very harmful plus they can carry rabies. I keep all feed locked up to discourage them, but it doesn't always help. Also, if you've ever went to your chicken house some morning and found a bloody mess with a half dozen hens slaughtered - eaten alive since hens are helpless in the dark - you wouldn't feel so charitable towards them. They had managed to find a small gap between the fence and the roof of my run. That said, I've been extra careful to close the small door into the coop at night now, but I don't think raccoons are quite as cute anymore.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, I can see taking out or at least reducing non-native predator species, but I didn't think that was what we wer talking about here.

E. B. Davis said...

What most people don't understand--on the Outer Banks--the best beaches aren't accessible on foot. One must drive to the beaches to be able to use them. The environmentalists make it sound as if there is a NASCAR race on the beach. There isn't. Most people are respectful of the beaches. On Hatteras Island, there aren't miles and miles of beaches designated for Off Road Vehicles. There is maybe five miles, half of which are not blocked off. In the summer, this will be an issue because of the amount of vacationers who come here, and not all of us can afford beach front homes (or even to rent beach front homes). This issue doesn't disturb anyone with money--it's the retired fishermen/women who take the hit.