State News

Still no leads on who vandalized fences at N.C. beach

Posted May 23, 2008 6:49 p.m. EDT

— Authorities say they still don't know who tore down fences and signs marking an area of protected beach for endangered birds on Hatteras Island.

The closed area is off-limits to vehicles and pedestrians under an agreement between the park service and environmental groups, which sued the agency over protection of birds and turtles that nest on the Outer Banks.

The boundary was extended 50 meters when the damage was discovered Saturday, a week after similar vandalism was found nearby.

The fenced areas along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore were established when the park service and environmentalists agreed last month to end the lawsuit by further restricting off-road vehicle use in nesting areas. Part of the agreement included automatic expansion of restricted areas if they were disturbed.

Pedestrians are allowed on the beach outside the closed area, but vehicles are not.

Park service officials said 1,500 feet of fence was damaged, and three signs alerting visitors to the closed area were missing. The vandalism took place less than a mile north of Buxton.

A week earlier, a ranger discovered 12 signs torn down in the South Beach area near Buxton where a colony of least terns is protected. The boundary there also was expanded.