Vandalism and trespassing brings another buffer expansion
A new act of vandalism and trespassing to posted shorebird protection
areas has resulted in an expansion of a buffer around the birds at
Bodie Island spit.
On Sunday, June 22, Cape Hatteras National Seashore staff discovered
damaged fencing and off-road vehicle tire tracks that violated three
resource protection areas that were in place south of Ramp 4 towards
The violation apparently occurred between 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 21,
and 6 a.m. on Sunday. The park ranger who investigated the
violation observed one sign destroyed and numerous, obvious tire
spin-out tracks in the sand, including zigzagging across the beach,
“doughnut” tire marks, and evidence of sand thrown
considerable distances from the tire tracks, which suggest the vehicle
was traveling at an excessive speed for conditions. At this time,
there are no leads to the identity of the vehicle or operator.
The April 30, 2008, court-ordered consent decree, which resolved a
lawsuit related to shorebird and sea turtle protection at the seashore,
requires the National Park Service to automatically expand the closure
area by 50 meters if a first confirmed deliberate act disturbs or
harasses wildlife or vandalizes fencing, nests, or plants. In
this case, seashore staff documented the incident and expanded the
closures by 50 meters each as ordered by the decree. The consent
decree also requires that if a second such act occurs, the buffer shall
automatically be expanded by 100 meters. And if a third act
occurs, the buffer shall be expanded by 500 meters if NPS determines it
is necessary to minimize the extent of further disturbance.
“This was an egregious violation, plain and simple,” said
Superintendent Mike Murray. “Irresponsible behavior such as
this not only puts nesting birds at risk, which under the consent
decree, leads to more stringent protection, it also reduces access for
the many park visitors who do comply with the rules.”
Last weekend’s incident was the third act of vandalism since the consent decree was put in place.
Last month, vandalism of symbolic fencing marking a shorebird closure
in the South Beach area of Cape Hatteras National Seashore was
discovered about 1.7 miles east of Ramp 49 in Frisco. In that case, a
park ranger patrolling the area discovered and documented 12 posts with
“Area Closed” signs broken off at the sand line and several
Carsonite closure markers pulled out at the shoreline.
Also last month, a resource protection area for an American
oystercatcher nest was vandalized on the oceanside just north of
Buxton. Park staff found more than 1,500 feet of fence protecting
the nest had been damaged. Twenty fence posts had been broken, five
signs pulled out of the sand, and three Carsonite closure signs are
Each of those incidents resulted in a 50-meter increase in the buffer.
Destruction of government property and entering a resource closure are
federal criminal violations, each subject to up to a $5,000 fine and up
to six months imprisonment.