January 8, 2009

Going on a Safari...Pleasure Island Style

Thanks to Banjoey1 for posting this very cool video of some wildlife here on Pleasure Island. The video of the fox and deer are from an area near the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Not to stir up the proponents of 'old wives tales' but foxes do occasionally come out during the day and it should not be taken as a sign of illness or rabies. But obviously, if the animal shows signs of aggression or sickness, remove yourself from the area and contact authorities.

Speaking of foxes, the area fox population is on the rise and the animal has unfortunately developed a strong appetite for sea turtle eggs and shore bird eggs. Last year, according to the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, not a single shorebird nested successfully on Masonboro Island and nearly half of the sea turtle nest were destroyed. It is believed that the fox was the primary culprit for the losses. Both Pleasure Island and Bald Head Island have also witnessed similar problems.

Park Rangers and conservationist are doing what they can to protect the nests. They are using metal cages to envelope the nest and the practice has shown to be a minor sucess. But in time, the foxes learn to dig deeper and bypass the cage thereby gaining access to the nest. Deeper cages are consturcted and the cycle begins again.

Long term, some of the more troublesome foxes will have to removed from the area in order to protect the nest. But how that is accomplished is still being debated.

In the meantime, beachgoers can do their part to help with this growing problem:
• Do not leave any trash on the beaches which may later attract the predators. Either take the trash to beach entrance respectacles or take the trash with you.
• Do not feed foxes. Anything that encourages foxes to view the beach as a place for food sources threatens nest.
• If you notice a fox taking a special interest in an area of the beach during turtle nesting season, notify a park/beach official. They can determine if the area is home to a turtle nest, and if so, take measures to protect the eggs.

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