Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Party Crashing NJ Nesting Birds

Partiers and boaters down near Cape May have been using Champagne Island, home to nesting Royal Terns, Piping Plovers, and the largest Black Skimmer colony in NJ, as their personal bar and private beach.

Story here

Eyewitnesses have seen kids literally throwing Skimmer eggs into the water. NJ Audubon is stepping in. Here's a response from them:

We (NJAS/CMBO) have been in contact with state officials about Champagne Island. The situation is a muddy one because of uncertain ownership and jurisdiction. The island is geographically within three different municipalities at the moment, but may be partially or wholly within the jurisdiction of the state Tidelands Commission. The island is ephemeral, moves around Hereford Inlet with storms, and some years doesn’t even exist. The only certain enforcement authority with respect to the tern and skimmer colony at present lies with DEP’s Bureau of Law Enforcement Conservation Officers, who are able to write warnings or tickets only if visitors to the island take or attempt to take endangered or threatened species, as per the state endangered species statute. It is not illegal to land on the island. I spoke to the state Bureau of Law Enforcement today, and they are aware of the situation. Officers have been to the island and I was told they will continue to do what they can to protect the colony.

18 comments:

Birdfreak said...

That is disgusting that people do whatever they want... I hope authorities and Audubon can rectify the situation...

People can certainly suck sometimes...

LauraHinNJ said...

Oh dear. How can it be legal to land on the island when there's endangered species nesting there?

People do suck.

:-(

Larry said...

That really ticks me off!-I remember seeing a family picknicking under an eagle's nest-throwing rocks at them!

Will said...

Typical legalistic view taken by Audubon. As usual they don't have the stones to stand up to the Authorities when it counts.

Patrick Belardo said...

Will, you're right on target with that. This topic is spawning a discussion on Jerseybirds.

Larry, that is pretty pathetic. As I always like to say, "Sometimes people just need beatings."

Laura, I don't get it either. Where are the laws?

Corby said...

Hi,
I am an Upstater(NY) who likes your blog. I cannot believe the DEC has not stepped in, what about the migratory bird act? Or the endangered species act (for plovers)? It is sad to know the laws are useless, and can the birds afford the loss of an entire nesting season? I mean throwing eggs...ugh.

-Corby

Patrick Belardo said...

Corby, thanks so much for reading. I'm not sure what the deal is. Perhaps this location is not on their "official list" of nesting areas. It doesn't seem to make sense, but it's possible. I know the Royal Terns are newly nesting this year and it would be a horrible loss to have them all fail. I need to learn more about how NJ manages these types of locations.

Anonymous said...

I frequent the island and everyone stays well outside the boundaries set by the wildlife commission. These stories of people throwing eggs into the water are dramatic and trying to draw negative attention to their cause. The people that frequent the island are intensely respectful of the birds and their space. They are incredibly obedient of all the rules. The authority patrolling the island is there to enforce these rules and not once in many years of going have I ever seen them have to act at all.

jmbo said...

I strongly agree with the anonomous poster who visits the island. I've spoken to a lot of boaters over this issue. They all enjoy and respect the birds. They agree with the need for protection enforcement and respect the boundaries. I've read a lot of published statements (although I realize that the press may be slanting) that seem extremely exaggerated or false and can be perceived as an attempt to villainize the boaters. This is unfair, the boaters who visit the island care deeply about it, keep it clean and warn the occasional ignorant person who may violate a protected area to obey the postings. The birds are thriving here, proof can be found thru the NJDEP endangered bird reports. To ban boaters from visiting the island under the claim that they are harming the birds unnecessary and unfair.

Tim G said...

The birds are thriving on the sandbar and have been for nearly five years. Prior to that, there were no endangered birds or nests because there were no dunes or grass to sustain them. The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife confirms that the main problem facing the nesting birds on Champagne Island is flooding - not boaters - it always has been. It's not an island - it's a sandbar - which changes and moves after each storm. This year's self-appointed conservationists know this and yet they continue to publish and push misleading information about the boaters abusing the birds. It’s false. The boaters are families, citizens and children who have enjoyed and respected the sandbar for decades, long before the special interests started their negative campaigns. We have always "Shared the Shore" with the birds and the wildlife on Champagne Island. We have compromised to help the birds survive and we will continue to do so. Unfortunately, the special interests ignore the truth so they can confiscate these beautiful public lands for their own use in the name of conservationism.

Anonymous said...

When the birds nesting is down to nearly, if not, a single island why should anyone be allowed there? The selfishness of humanity is unbounded.

Anonymous said...

MY FAMILY AND I GO TO THE ISLAND ALMOST EVERY WEEKEND IN THE SUMMER AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYONE HURTING THE BIRDS.THE ISLAND APPEARS TO BE MOSTLY UNDER WATER THIS YEAR AND THAT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM THE BIRDS FACE.

Patrick Belardo said...

Anonymous,

It doesn't matter anymore because the island has been designated a wildlife management area and will be closed to boaters.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be great if we could put all you bird brains on the island.

Boater4Ever said...

this is all bullshit, the birds and their nests get wiped out every winter, let the humans have some fun once and a while

Patrick Belardo said...

FYI, they build a new nest every year regardless. Plus, most of these birds don't even really build a nest. They basically lay their eggs on a patch of sand.

jmbo said...

Birder's motto, "never let the truth interfere with our agenda".

Anonymous said...

After another glorious season out at the island, I am going to reiterate that the boaters frequenting the island are still respectful, environmentally aware, and incredibly responsible people. Not once have I EVER seen a piece of trash on the beach. People do NOT enter the roped off areas. The black skimmers thrived there all summer. The Terns are still there. There is the occasional ignorant tourist (ignorant in the actual definition of meaning doesn't know) that brings a dog. If it weren't for the regular boaters out there with the knowledge and respect for the birds that might be a problem, but every time...without fail, one of those dedicated people will go inform the dog owner of the situation and the result is the dog leaves. All these other horror stories are exactly that - stories...made up for shock value alone. Every website out there will tell you that the numbers of the birds are going up not down. And flooding, not boaters, is the main obstacle faced by the birds. It is a sandbar, not an island, that is covered or not by the changing tides. Boaters have every right to enjoy the beauty of it outside the roped off bird nesting area.