The East End of Long Island, New York is a popular vacation spot but it is also a popular breeding area for a bird called the Atlantic Coast piping plover - a "tourist" that many Long Islanders wish would go away.
The plover has been listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS) since 1986. Every year between late March and early September, plovers migrate to Long Island to breed. This happens to coincide with the busy tourist season. To accommodate the bird, local officials are forced to adhere to an onerous and expensive set of regulations.
Gary Veglianti, the mayor of West Hampton Dunes, says that in one case a plover had made a nest 10 feet from a road and the FWS recommended that the road be closed to everyone except essential people. "What do I do," asked
Veglianti, "get some Nazi traffic cop to stand there and decide who's essential and who isn't?" What's worse is that the plovers' migration occurs during peak beach season and the road is the only way in or out of the village. There's no way the road could be shut down.
"Some of these recommendations are too much," observed
Veglianti. But the FWS has told Veglianti that if he doesn't follow their recommendations they might put him in jail for violating the Endangered Species Act.
West Hampton Dunes has had to spend $7 million over three years for plover protection, not including the lost revenue due to building restrictions.
Source: Insight Magazine