PIPL Poll Positions

I kan haz poll?
I kan haz poll?

Polling about Franken-Tufters vs. Super Tufters was super fun, and thanks to everyone who cast a vote. Particularly fun is seeing free thinkers break the mold, refusing to be forced down the narrow path to an extreme YES or NO, and express their more distinct, personal views by creatively utilizing the “OTHER” option in our recent poll. Here are a few of the good ones.

Other: What doo-dads? 😉

Brilliant.

Other: If it was anybody but Tufters, but NOT Tufters!

This is actually and extremely popular sentiment, which we can call “Not In My Backyard!” When I first learned that Tufters & Tacey were on the list of birds-to-be-banded, I immediately  realized that was the end of adorable, doodad free, PIPL photos for Readings From The Northside, unless I was willing to painstakingly Photoshop those little green blobs out in each of the 25,672 photos I take of Tuffies & Tacey each season. Immediately realizing I was too lazy for that, I thought of creative ways to attempt to lobby against it. But in the end, I came to accept that they were born to be celebrity PIPL, and I would be proud to have them be Ambassadors for their itty-bitty species. Then I took conciliation in the fact I would never have to crawl around in the sand desperately trying to get a shot of Tufters’ tiny leg scar to know it was him for sure. In all seriousness, my comfort was highest when considering the fact that we all could actually observe the whole thing, from the process to the future results, first hand, and form real opinions about a controversial issue that is really important to LBI.

Other: You are amazing. When I am going extinct, I want you to lobby for me.

Much appreciated. I certainly feel like a lobbyist for Tufters sometimes. Much of the time actually.

Other: “I fear thou doth protest too much” in clarification.

This one made me chuckle. Not only because of the botched Shakespeare quote, but because this person needs to log onto my email Inbox, and Sent folder. I’ve spent the last two weeks answering both concerned & supportive emails about Tufters & Tacey, continually clarifying the same misunderstandings and factual errors over and over and over again. These posts are consolidated and simplified clarifications of just the main issues… they probably represent only about 10% of the actual protesting I’ve done lately. Some of the concern was generated by my over-the-top enthusiasm, without including any acknowledgement of the difficult stuff involved in all of this. I fear I protested too little, actually!

We also had a few comments inside the poll which I can’t reply to in there. I will dutifully reply here:

Carol: Old message – sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do – realizing it’s the best option.

I took me a long while to get on board with Beach Replenishment, even Post-Sandy. I still don’t like it, and I am still willing to risk my own property rather than have my Beach look like Harvey Cedars, which feels to me exactly like one of those artificial island’s they build from scratch in Dubai. And those dunes look like really bad hair plugs. Half the draw of living on the Coast is the precariousness of it all, storms included. But my interests represent only the tiniest fraction of what is at stake, and the combined chorus of Islanders want it. So I’m on board despite my reluctance and can say with sincerity: – sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do – realizing it’s the best option.

Bobpbx: Can’t get it out of my head; Don’t they know what this creature needs to survive and thrive already? Why not just work towards more of that? And also, the record plays on; is this being done because the technology is cool, and it helps obtain more grant money, hence a living for people?

Excellent questions with clear answers. It is actually frightening how little we know about many things, especially Piping Plover. Surprisingly, it was only very recently that we even learned they winter in the Bahamas. Even a decade ago, where they went was a mystery.

More specifically, we know a lot in New Jersey about how to help take care of them in the breeding season. NJ has done an amazing job helping eggs hatch and keeping them alive during their Summer vacations here. But the biggest issue is that despite the good “fledge record” (the number of chicks that successfully survive the breeding season), the total number of breeding pairs keeps dwindling when the opposite should be true based on breeding success. Where those birds are going is a mystery and a huge blind spot.  For example, at our own Barnegat Light, we used to have two pairs, now we are down to one. That is specifically the unknown that is trying to be known. Just knowing where individuals go and how they move throughout their huge range will probably make an enormous impact on survival. Or at least it will allow us to stop protecting the eggs of birds that are going to die the second they leave the Island.

Next and importantly, there was a 20 year moratorium on banding Piping Plover which started in 1989 in the U.S. This was done to minimize disturbance. In that time numbers have continued to plummet. Lots of advances have been made but an even more enormous blind spot exists because almost no one, except the Canadians, has been able to study individuals because of the ban-on-banding. In the same time period, huge advances and comebacks have taken place with other endangered coastal species, including Osprey, Peregrine, Bald Eagles, and Oystercatchers, and banded studies were an enormous part of those successes. The things that were learned were simply invaluable. Piping Plover were not allowed to be part of that party, and it shows in their condition.

Lastly, none of this technology is new. It is actually old, and as mentioned, has been used with enormous success  on all kinds of species, including Piping Plover. In terms of getting funding, I used to carry the same suspicions about science-people until I met the people who do this stuff. Then I quickly realized they were the exact opposite of people motivated by money: The only people attracted to such a horrible, difficult, exhausting, low paying, and thankless career are those who really love nature over everything else. In addition, there is so much to do and not enough money to do it. Only the most important stuff gets done, and this one is considered muy importante.

When Hurricane Sandy hit LBI, we were locked out of the Island for like 20 days. We all tried to guess what might be going on with our homes, our neighbors, our beaches… we knew there was much to do, much of time sensitive, like molding…. but we were locked out while our homes rotted. Other communities had already returned and fixed their homes. When they finally opened the bridge most of us dropped everything we were doing and immediately went to the Island to start rebuilding. And so it is with the folks who have been locked out of banded PIPL studies for 20 years.

He's not too tall, he's a little bit small, and everybody knows.... It's Tufters!
He’s not too tall, he’s a little bit small, and everybody knows…. It’s Tufters!