There’s a bird “news” blog I like to read, LittleBirdieHome. Three times a week, there are new stories posted that relate to birds, from the mundane stories such as “Johnny saw a Three-toed Kingbird down at Newton’s Corner!” to bird research published in scientific journals. Many times they are feel-good stories. However, as with any “news”, it ain’t always good.
This week there’s a story from near our old stomping grounds. After college, we lived in Maryland for a couple of years. Every once in a while we’d head east on a weekend to enjoy Ocean City or another beach on the coast. It was a nice change of pace for a Midwestern couple who hadn’t even seen the ocean many times. However, it was also a complete MADHOUSE. Just traveling back and forth to the coast on a weekend was often bumper to bumper, and you certainly couldn’t ever find solitude once you arrived
The story posted by LittleBirdieHome highlights the attitude that certainly seemed to permeate coastal areas when we were there. People first! WITHOUT exception!! That’s the general rule. Wildlife? That’s about 48th on the list of most important concerns for coastal visitors. The story concerns newly created islands and a conflict between birds, and people. Several small islands were created off the coast to benefit bird species that need quiet, isolated locations for breeding. However, boaters in the area have made one of the islands into a favorite weekend getaway location, flocking to the sandy beach on the island and the relative solitude compared to the coast itself. Breeding bird species, for which the island was built? There’s simply not going to be many breeding birds when people are using the island so heavily.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as it’s really no different here in South Dakota. Public lands and parks are DEFINITELY “people first”, with wildlife concerns far down the list of most important land management concerns It’s SO sad here to visit a favored State Park, only to find that areas of wonderful habitat have been cleared to make room for campers, archers, off-road vehicles, etc. It seems the people-first method of management is universal in the United States, where the ONLY concern for the public is how they can use (and abuse) public lands. While the article linked above notes that officials are considering permanently closing the island to human visitation, I would bet the farm that the boating/party/beachbum/LOSER interests win out.
I’d like to think that they’d default to the use the island was built for, but when it comes down to people vs. birds, people always win. It’s as simple as that.