| July 31, 2008
Park Service reports sixth violation of resource protection area
On the morning of Wednesday, July 30, the National
Park Service’s turtle patrol observed all-terrain vehicle (ATV)
tracks inside the posted bird closure located approximately 1.8 miles
south of Ramp 23.
After entering the closure, the unauthorized ATV had driven high on the
beach through a least tern nesting area. The vehicle continued
south through the closure and exited where it did two doughnuts before
heading back north through the resource protection area again.
There were no signs of ATV tracks south of the closure, so the Park
Service thinks that the ATV entered the closure heading south and then
returned north. Staff followed the ATV tracks north and observed
that the tracks left the beach over a dune near Sea Haven Drive in
Rodanthe. However, no suspects were identified.
Park Service bird resource management staff members were called in to
survey the nest site and discovered that a least tern egg had been
crushed in the tracks of the illegal ATV. The egg was located
high on the beach approximately 100 meters inside and south of the
posted closure boundary.
The April 30 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 when
deliberate acts occur that disturb or harasses wildlife or vandalizes
fencing, nests, or plants. The buffer has been expanded 100
meters to the north in accordance with the decree.
The incident was the sixth deliberate violation of an area in the
seashore closed for resource protection since the consent decree was
effective. Previous violations did not result in the destruction of
nests, eggs, or birds.
The incident involved multiple federal criminal violations of NPS
regulations, including illegal vehicle use, entering a closed area, and
the destruction of the egg. Each violation carries a potential
penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and six months imprisonment. In
addition, the destruction of a migratory bird nest or egg is a criminal
offense under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which carries a potential
penalty of up to $15,000 fine and six months imprisonment, plus seizure
and forfeiture of all equipment, vehicles, and other means of
transportation used in the violation.
"The egregious violations such as this one that result in the automatic
expansion of the resource protection areas represent a small percentage
of the total number of closure violations that have been
occurring,” said seashore Superintendent Mike Murray.
“For the most part, our law enforcement staff has been successful
in apprehending violators in resource closures, although the staff
clearly cannot be everywhere at once or in any particular place all the
time. In the month of July alone, rangers have apprehended over
30 violators in resources closures.
“Our hope in publicizing these most serious violations,” he
said, “is that members of the public who have any information
about the violation or other criminal activity on seashore beaches will
come forward and assist us in solving the case.”
Though no suspects have been identified in this case, several leads
have been pursued. If anyone has information about this violation
or illegal ATV use in the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo area, or any other
illegal activity occurring on the seashore, please call the Dare County
Crime Line at 1-800-745-2746. It is open 24 hours a day.
In addition, the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association is offtering a
$1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person
or persons involved in a deliberate act of vandalism in a resource protection
area. This reward stands from now until Nov. 15 or until all turtle nests have