CREOLE, La. (KPLC) - At Rutherford Beach, you can often find roped off area to protect wildlife, but some conservationists say that the holiday weekend festivities may have damaged these areas.
Coastal Stewardship Manager for Audubon Louisiana Katie Barnes and her team spend a lot of time on Rutherford beach roping off those areas where birds nest.
“Three of them nesting here, the Least Terns, the Wilson’s Plover, and the Common Nighthawk are all highly migratory birds that come up here from the tropics to breed, and they stay here throughout the spring and the summer and they raise their chicks.”
Barnes says it can be a difficult task when an increase in beachgoers threaten the wildlife they worked so hard to preserve, “I don’t really know what to expect every year. It really just depends on the crowd and there’s always the issue of having multiple vehicles driving in areas where they shouldn’t be driving.”
To prepare for the crowd, the team put in extra hours of work.
“We spent a lot of time yesterday putting up some extra fencing, extending some of the fencing for chicks that were wandering to the water’s edge, that’s part of their natural lifecycle. We kept people and off-leash dogs and vehicles out of those areas,” Barnes says. “We were able to save all of the nests that we did have marked that we were actively tracking that were behind fencing, however it wasn’t all of them.”
Barnes says people can do better to help protect these animals.
“Not all the birds are behind fencing and unfortunately some of those birds that weren’t behind fencing, I watched run over by vehicles yesterday during the 4th of July as well as chicks, despite our efforts of getting people to go along the water’s edge and to stay off of those areas with debris and grasses and dunes because that’s where the birds are hiding those babies.”
Barnes hopes that beachgoers will learn more about the wildlife that surrounds them, and work together to protect it. She advises beachgoers to follow the laws that protect not only themselves but also the wildlife that makes Southwest Louisiana so unique.