Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

January 29, 2007

Discovered on Monday, the Geo-Boy was recognizable only by the small portion of the roof above the water line in the canal in the Laurel Bay Farm Unit.
Photo credit: Donnie Harris, USFWS

On Tuesday, a salvage company brought a diver and crane to recovery the $240,000 Geo-Boy from the canal. The costly repairs (estimated at $50,000) will be made at Jarraff Industries in Minnesota where the Geo-Boy was purchased.
Photo credit: Donnie Harris, USFWS

Costly Vandalism on Alligator River Refuge Results in Closure to Public

Some time over the last week-end in January, an unknown person walked behind a locked gate about a mile into the Laurel Bay Fram Unit of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and intentionally caused major damage to a $240,000 piece of heavy equipment called a Geo-Boy. The Geo-Boy is a specialized piece of tracked heavy equipment with a heavy duty flail cutter on the front used for firebreak maintenance. On Monday, January 28, the Geo-Boy was discovered in the bottom of a canal near the Laurel Bay Pump station, visible only by the 12-20 inches of the roof of the cab that was above the water line. The Laurel Bay Farm unit was scheduled to be open to driving for public use, including quail and rabbit hunting, wildlife observation, and fishing, during the month of February, but Refuge Manager Mike Bryant has announced that the area will remain closed to vehicles and will closed to walking due to the implied threat to other equipment located in the area.

Bryant commented, "Money is tight in the Fish and Wildlife Service right now. The precious few dollars we have are needed to manage wildlife and habitat and provide quality wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities for the public. We have limited law enforcement presense on the refuge. Knowing that there's someone out there who is capable of costing us this much money for no benefit at all puts me in a 'protection' mode. I need to do whatever is necessary to protect the resources we have. "

"In light of this vandalism in the Laurel Bay Farm Unit, this unit will be closed to all public entry until further notice," Bryant added.

The incident is being investigated by Refuge Law Enforcement Officer Frank Simms. Anyone with knowledge of this incident should contact the refuge office at 252-473-1131.