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Tighter Enforcement Planned for Regulations on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in Rodanthe, NC



June 23, 2004

Bonnie Strawser, 252-473-1131 ext 230
Mike Bryant, (Refuge Manager) ext 222
Kathy Whaley, (Deputy Refuge Manager) ext. 223


Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Manager Mike Bryant announced today that refuge staff will be tightening enforcement of public use regulations on the refuge, particularly on the oceanside of NC Highway 12. Several behaviors have become more common and problematic for the wildlife resources and refuge visitors. "The refuge has a 'wildlife first' focus," explained Bryant. "After that, we encourage family-oriented, wildlife-dependent forms of recreation, including fishing, interpretation, environmental education, wildlife observation, and wildlife photography. We've reached a point where some common activities are having negative impacts on our primary reasons for being here, so it's time to curtail these activities. Two of the biggest problems are public nudity and dogs that are not on leashes and under the physical control of their owners."

"For the first time ever, Pea Island and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuges have a full-time, permanent law enforcement officer. " Bryant added. "It is our hope that we can provide consistent enforcement of all refuge regulations, with special emphasis on activities that have negative impacts on wildlife resources and on refuge visitors who are participating in family-oriented, wildlife dependent forms of recreation."

In recent years, Bryant has received an increasing number of complaints from local citizens as well as out-of-town visitors concerning nudity on Pea Island's beaches. Families who have taken an afternoon "to volunteer and give something back" have voiced their offense at having their children exposed to nudity while working to clean the beach. Often, refuge staff and volunteers have witnessed unleashed dogs harassing shorebirds and other refuge wildlife. Bonnie Strawser, Interpretive Specialist for the refuge, commented, "I've even had to stop the 4-wheeler and grab a dog to pry a duckling out of its mouth!"

Bryant continued, "North Carolina law concerning public nudity is somewhat vague and has been interpreted rather liberally by some people. But, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy allows a refuge manager to establish and enforce special refuge regulations by giving 'constructive notice' to the public. So, that's what we're doing..... through new signs, press releases, fact sheets at the Visitor Center, and posting on our web site. We don't want anyone to be surprised. "

New signs along NC Highway 12 within the refuge remind the public: Daylight Use Only: Prohibited Activities Include: Unleashed Pets, Camping and Fires, Vehicles on Beach, Feeding of Wildlife, Public Nudity: Consult Refuge Manager for Details. Bryant is convinced that these forms of outreach will provide the constructive notice required. "For some refuge visitors, this will be a change. But, I believe a vast majority of refuge visitors will breathe a sigh of relief over the stricter enforcement."

Under Title 50 of the Federal Code of Regulations (50CFR 28.31) (a), Any person who violates any of the provisions, rules, regulations, posted signs, or special regulations of this subchapter C, or any items, conditions or restrictions in a permit, license, grant, privilege, or any other limitation established under the subchapter C shall be subject to the penalty provisions of this section.

Persons with questions regarding regulations should contact the Refuge Administrative Headquarters in Manteo at 252-473-1131 or pick up a fact sheet at the Pea Island Visitor Center or on-line at

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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