A Deliberate Violation of Resource Protection Area for Least Tern Colony with Chicks and Nests
Contact: Outer Banks Group, (252) 473-2111 ext: 148
On 7/26/08 a closure violation occurred at the least tern colony north of Ramp 27. The violation most likely occurred between 0200 (approximate last high tide) and 0800, when it was discovered by park staff. The ranger who investigated the incident observed two separate vehicle tracks that had entered the closure, which was established to protect least tern nests and chicks, and reported that access was most likely gained by driving between the last carsonite post and the tide line. The vehicles traveled approximately one tenth of a mile into the closure where the occupants got out of the vehicles and built a beach fire. There were multiple foot prints around the fire area and at least two sets of human tracks that went from the fire approximately 200 feet up to the dune line.
The April 30, 2008 Consent Decree related to shorebird and sea turtle protection at Cape Hatteras National Seashore requires the National Park Service to automatically expand a resource protection area by 50 meters for the first confirmed deliberate act that disturbs or harasses wildlife or vandalizes fencing, nests, or plants; and 100 meters for a second violation. On May 26 there was a deliberate violation in this area as a result of an intentional entry violation (campfire/violation notice issue), and that buffer was modified on May 27, 2008. Park staff documented the most recent violation and on July 27 expanded the closure by 100 meters (328 feet) in accordance with the Consent Decree.
As a reminder, temporary resource protection areas are established to protect beach nesting bird nests, unfledged chicks and sea turtles nests until the breeding cycle has been completed. Posted areas are closed to vehicles, pedestrians and pets. In addition, under the Consent Decree beach driving is prohibited from 10:00 p.m. until 6 a.m. from May 1 to November, to increase the chances of successful sea turtle nesting. Violation of park regulations, including entering a resource protection closure, are federal criminal violations, each subject to up to a $5,000.00 fine and up to six months imprisonment.
For more information, call 252-473-2111 ext. 148.
Did You Know?
Lightning whelks eat about one large clam per month. The whelk pries the clam open with its muscular foot, wedges the clam open with its shell, then eats the soft inside of the clam. Lightning whelk shells, which whorl to the left, wash up on the beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.