[CT Birds] Birding and Police, a different take

Boletebill boletebill at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 10 11:44:48 EST 2010

Like most long time birders I too have had my interactions with police.  In the mid '90's I went through an owl phase and after the second middle-of-the-night questioning I just started a policy of calling the local police, giving my plate # and telling them what I was up to.  Never got bothered after that and I do the same for night time salamander surveys.
I had a scary encounter at Hammonassett Reservoir birding when a Water Co. cop and local police tracked me down in the woods and grilled me about what I was doing so near the water supply.  It took a lot of talking to convince them that I wasn't a terrorist about to poison the water supply.  As many have said about this I wasn't mad and I'm glad someone is watching our water supplies and now I generally avoid birding off trail on water supply land. Yes I was off trail. Mea culpa.
 My nightmare scenario happened at Ninigret Wildlife Sancuary. I was birding-by-car, that is driving slowly along the roads and airstrip listening for different birds.  I passed the swimming pond twice during my circuit and when I left the park State Police pulled me over, guns drawn and extracted me from my car.  It seemed a woman at the swimming pond thought I was looking to abduct a child from the park. Apparently someone had attempted that earlier in the summer and this woman was "Certain" it was me.  Everything was cleared up in short order but phew, that was scary and ruined a whole day of my vacation.
 I know a lot of people have had their say on this and many are ready for the subject to fade away but one thought that I have about these experiences is this:  Doesn't this cry out for some kind of educational outreach between Birder organizations and local police, Park personel, State police?  Just a thought.
Bill Yule
"For those who hunger after the earthly excrescences called mushrooms."

--- On Sat, 1/9/10, Mark Szantyr <birddog55 at charter.net> wrote:

From: Mark Szantyr <birddog55 at charter.net>
Subject: [CT Birds] Birding and Police, a different take
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Date: Saturday, January 9, 2010, 9:55 PM

Having the distinction of being a birder who was arrested for criminal trespass on my very first visit to the "old" Milford Point ( all charges dropped and the complaintant warned to stop harassing birders), I want to say that in subsequent encounters with police I have had nothing but respectful questions and then warm interest in what this birding thing was all about.
This may be an unpopular view, but while out at all hours of the night owling in some rather remote and sometimes unsavory environments, I have regarded their concern as a comfort.  I always thank them for checking on me for if I was indeed in need of assistance, I was glad to know they were around.

Mark S. Szantyr
80 Bicknell Road #9
Ashford, Connecticut 06278
Birddog55 at charter.net 

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