The fox on the beach: More public comment
By IRENE NOLAN
Alderman of Buxton, who runs the Web site Hatteras Island Fishing
Militia and also produces and stars in a cable television show,
“The Outer Banks Angler,” spoke during public comment
sessions at both days of the March negotiated rulemaking session in
it was on the second day – Wednesday, March 19 – that he
really got the attention of the committee members and islanders who
were there to listen to comments.
was a standing-room only crowd at the Avon Fire Hall when Alderman, who
was first on the public comment list, took the microphone. He had
a handful of photos which he passed around the table, so committee
members could see them.
handout photos included pictures of a fox on the beach at Cape Point
and then a park ranger standing outside the open door of the Park
Service truck, aiming a shotgun in the direction of the fox.
the Alderman, there were about 20 vehicles “with men, women, and
children” at the Point when the incident occurred late last
summer. The foxed was killed.
contrasted a widely circulated letter from Caroline Kennedy, senior
director of field conservation for the Defenders of Wildlife to the
scene last summer at Cape Point.
letter to supporters began with “Each year, more than 10,000 wild
animals are poisoned to death with sodium cyanide and sodium
fluoroacetate, experiencing horrific deaths that can take hours. These
deadly poisons are designed to kill coyotes but they also have killed
swift foxes, wolves and other imperiled wildlife… as well as
family dogs and people.”
asked why Defenders of Wildlife could ask supporters to write letters
to save wildlife in the western United States, while allowing a fox, a
predator of many shorebirds, to be killed on the Cape Hatteras National
could take these birds to a dredge island,” he said.
“But, you, as defenders of wildlife, will leave them in place on
the beach and then kill more wildlife to protect them.”
the public comments, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent
Mike Murray addressed the issue of the photos and the fox on the beach.
“The bottom line,” he said, “is that I made the decision to terminate the fox.
The decision, he said, was not made to protect birds but to protect humans.
who has a degree in biology and has worked in wildlife management at
other national parks, noted that the fox was in a place where you
would not normally find one – way out on the beach at Cape Point
– and that it was showing “unusual comfort around
animal’s behavior was not normal, Murray said, and after
conferring with several other staff members, he decided to ask a ranger
to destroy the animal.
The fox was tested after it was killed, and it did not have rabies.
Park Service, he noted, does have a policy of predator management and
control on the seashore beaches. Both foxes and feral cats, as
well as gulls and other birds, are known predators of the nests and
hatchlings of protected shorebirds.
An irony of the fox on the beach story is that the incident happened
while Murray was leading a tour of Cape Point and shorebird nesting
areas for members of the negotiated rulemaking committee.
of the members on the beach that day was Jason Rylander, attorney for
Defenders of Wildlife, which is suing the park over its interim plan to
did not defend or criticize the incident with the fox at Cape Point,
but he did talk generally about protecting wildlife.
stand for biodiversity,” Rylander told the committee members and
others after the public comment session. “And sometimes we have
to make difficult choices.”