If you were not yet planning to see The Good Dinosaur this holiday season, well then, in addition to the fact that you are no fun, you should probably put it on your calendar because once again The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund is going to shovel some of those profits right back to LBI.
That’s right: New Jersey’s legendary Todd Pover, Lord of The Flyway, has once again secured one of their juicily generous grants to further the study of the itty-bitty Piping Plover on their wintering grounds in the Bahamas. And if it sounds like I just told a major lie, and it sounds like the money is going to the Bahamas and not to LBI, well, then, you probably don’t realize that many of our local animals like to spend the winter off-Island, just like many of us do. Tufters, Tacey, Beth, Wynken, and Blynken are probably all whooping it up down there, somewhere. And if someone does not make sure they have a safe and pleasant place to eat wermz way down there in the winter, our Island will be a whole lot less of the natural paradise we love it for in the future.
Our hometown beach-nesting bird hero Todd Pover does a phenomenal job taking care of NJ’s superstar Piping Plover, especially in their most challenging habitats like Barnegat Light State Park where the last remaining pair of PIPL on the public parts of the Island still fight to live among us and share the beach and maintain their heritage here. But no matter how great of a job NJ does caring for our Summer Plover, that effort is a total waste if they just get decimated on their wintering grounds and all along the flyway in between. Todd and his awesome team have made a huge investment in our beaches, so they are going to do whatever they have to protect that investment: even if that means heading to the Bahamas each winter with Disney picking up the tab (ha!) This year is going to be a particularly big one, as a major 5 year Census of Piping Plover in the Bahamas will be taking place, and with the big banding project led by Michelle Stantial & Emily Heiser this Summer on LBI, chances are good that they might even find some of our own local birds.
Congratulations to Lord Of The Flyway Todd Pover & Team NJ. And for anyone who has not had the good fortune of meeting Todd when he is hanging around his favorite habitat, Barnegat Light, playing with Tufters… well… all I can say is if he ever throws you out of there for trampling through the protected areas or walking your dog illegally, you, like most people, will end up hugging him in the parking lot. His laid back, down to earth style, and totally common sense approach maintaining a little balance along the coast and helping the humanz and animals share the beach is a treasure of the shore. LBI is lucky to have him taking care of our friendliest, most curious, most endangered, most hated, and also most loved local: The PIPL. We’re glad Disney can still recognize a great character when they see one.
SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to venture a guess that Lord Of The Flyway, Season III ends with Todd & Company not finding Tufters. As much as Tufters surely loves Todd, I bet he considers winter his “Tufters” time and will artfully and expertly dodge Team NJ. We’ll see!