The birds and sea turtles have rebounded since a lawsuit limited beach driving at Cape Hatteras National Seashore last year, but the restrictions may not be the only reason, according to a story in The Virginian-Pilot last week.
U.S. District Court judge Terrence Boyle held a status hearing last week where park superintendent Mike Murray told Boyle that the driving restrictions may not be the only reason bird and turtle reproduction has been more successful.
"I think there are multiple factors that affect nesting success," Murray said.
Last year's settlement closed down key surf fishing spots to traffic — both vehicular and pedestrian. Businesses on the island rallied against the regulations, stating that business would be crippled because fishermen wouldn't come.
While sea turtle numbers were up at the park, they were also up along the state’s entire coast, the story reported, adding that Murray didn’t try to explain the increase. But Murray did suggest one factor may have been that night driving was restricted and that lights are generally thought to spook sea turtles.
A negotiated rulemaking committee, tasked with developing a long-term beach driving plan disbanded two weeks ago, and, sans a plan, Murray is now charged with coming up with a plan by next year, according to terms of the settlement filed by the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society against the National Park Service.