[CT Birds] Protecting the few beach nesting areas along the Connecticut coastline

Lynch, Patrick patrick.lynch at yale.edu
Thu Aug 8 00:03:45 EDT 2013

I have to second Shaun Martin here. In the 600+ miles of Connecticut's shoreline there are just a handful of acres where we as a society have agreed to protect our few remaining beach birds from human disturbance. The Connecticut shoreline is a crowded place, and 90%+ of our shoreline is privately owned and unsuitable for beach-nesting birds.

Nobody who chooses to walk through a protected area thinks of themselves as irresponsible, and virtually every of those folks would agree that protecting wildlife is a good thing, even the folks who let their dogs run unleashed.

Every one of those people on the sand spit thinks of themselves as responsible adults.

People go where other people go. If anyone is allowed to designate themselves as a specially responsible and privileged person, enforcement will be impossible.

Preserving beach-nesting species in Connecticut by protecting their nest areas is a social value many people support. A personal desire to bird the sand spit doesn't compare in social value, no matter how 'responsible' you are. You'd like like to be there, I'd like to be there, and we're both experts who care about birds. The road to hell is paved that way.

If we have lost the social consensus -- even among birders! -- that some places ought to have reasonable restrictions on access, all is lost. Arguing about data is pointless right now, as everyone knows we don't have enough information to make firm statements about why beach nesters are so fickle in their preferences, or exactly how important human disturbance is. Consider: if we don't have the birds, we'll never know what did or did not make a difference.

As Paul Ehrlich once said, "the first rule in tinkering is to save all the pieces." The restrictions on Milford Point are a very reasonable attempt to save those vital pieces of our Connecticut shoreline.

Pat Lynch


Patrick J. Lynch
Senior Digital Officer
Office of Public Affairs & Communications
Yale University
2 Whitney Avenue, 353
New Haven, CT 06510-1220
Phone: 203.436.2643
Fax: Seriously?

patrick.lynch at yale.edu<mailto:patrick.lynch at yale.edu>

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