WBUR

To Protect Birds, U.S. Seeks Kiteboarding Ban At Monomoy

CHATHAM, Mass. — If you want to see one of the largest populations of shore birds along the East Coast, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, off the coast of Chatham, is the place to be. It’s teeming with species, including cormorants, egrets, herons, terns, sandpipers and the federally protected piping plover. Twelve percent of the state’s piping plover population nests on Monomoy.

The refuge is also a choice destination for kiteboarding, or kitesurfing, a sport growing in popularity. It’s like a combination of windsurfing and paragliding.

But the federal agency that oversees Monomoy says kiteboarding and piping plovers are a bad mix, so it’s proposed a ban on the sport there. And that’s caused howls of protest from kiteboarders who believe they can enjoy their sport without posing any threat to birds.

Kiteboarding instructor Eric Gustafson works to get his kite into the air off the coast of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Kiteboarding instructor Eric Gustafson works to get his kite into the air off the coast of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Pete van Amson is among them. To get a sense of how much van Amson loves kiteboarding, look at his LinkedIn profile. It shows him — a 50-something financial analyst — soaring above the water on an airborne kiteboard. He owns a house in Chatham and took us to Monomoy, which is accessible only by boat.

Asked why Monomoy is a good place to kiteboard, van Amson says that when the wind is blowing, “it’s probably one of the best places on the planet” thanks to its sometimes warm water, steady wind and shifting sand bars that create a changing variety of conditions.

Kiteboarders also say Monomoy is scenic and serene: gorgeous open water, undeveloped beach, frolicking seals. It’s like communing with nature — and nature, says Libby Herland of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is what Monomoy is meant for.

“I cannot possibly convey in words the importance of Monomoy to migratory birds,” Herland says. “It is a national wildlife refuge. It’s not a park.”

If Herland’s agency has its way, kiteboarding on Monomoy will be no more. The Audubon Society and the Sierra Club back that position.

Back on the boat, as soon as we get to Monomoy’s shore, Eric Gustafson — a kiteboarding instructor who owns a Wellfleet water sports company called Fun Seekers — spots a piping plover. They’re small, grey and white, with distinctive markings.

Monomoy is teeming with species, including cormorants, egrets, herons, terns, sandpipers, and the federally protected piping plover, pictured. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Monomoy is teeming with species, including cormorants, egrets, herons, terns, sandpipers, and the federally protected piping plover, pictured. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“There’s our little friend. See the ring around his neck? The black ring? He’s hunting and pecking right now,” Gustafson points out.

On the beach, the kiteboard set-up begins. Gustafson unrolls a kite that resembles gigantic bat wings and pumps the kite’s rib-like tubes full of air. Once the kite is inflated, Gustafson hooks a harness around his waist and, with the help of the wind, jerks the kite into the air. Then he straps his feet onto what looks like an undersized surfboard and he’s off, whipping across the water.

Barry Payne is getting ready to launch next. He learned to kiteboard from Gustafson and he’s distraught by the proposed Monomoy ban.

“I feel it’s tragic almost,” Payne reflects. “This is such a beautiful part of the world and I think the people who kite really respect the environment. It seems almost crazy to me to have a sport like this that has no footprint on the earth that gets banned.”

The problem with kiteboarding, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is that the kites and their shadows scare piping plovers and other shorebirds.

“Kites are a problem because to a bird that’s on the ground, they see something up in the air and they think it’s a predator, so they will leave the nest,” Herland explains, “and when a bird leaves its nest, if it has eggs those eggs are not going to be incubated.”

That’s why the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed conservation plan for Monomoy prohibits kiteboarding.

“I understand why some people are upset,” Herland says. “But people like kiteboarders can go anywhere. These birds don’t have the ability to go to other places. They have to go where the food is and where the habitat is right for them and where there’s really very little disturbance.”

But the kiteboarders believe there’s no proof that their sport has any negative impact on the birds. And the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges that its concerns are based in part on a two-decade-old, unpublished, un-peer-reviewed master’s thesis by a University of Massachusetts student who did research on how kites — not kite boarding, which wasn’t yet a sport, but kites — affect piping plovers. That has Barry Payne incensed.

The problem with kiteboarding, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is that the kites and their shadows scare piping plovers and other shorebirds. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The problem with kiteboarding, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is that the kites and their shadows scare federally protected piping plovers and other shorebirds. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“I mean, I think if there was hard science to prove that we were somehow adversely affecting the wildlife, then we would absolutely have to change the way we’re doing things,” Payne says. “I think there’s absolutely no evidence. And, in fact, one of most popular kiting beaches in this part of the world is Revere Beach, and that has one of the most well-doing plover populations on the East Coast.”

We tracked down Hoopes, the writer of that 1993 thesis paper, who says a single kiteboarder probably wouldn’t harm the birds.

“But the question is, how many kite boarders would cause a problem?” adds Hoopes, who now teaches environmental science and technology at Cape Cod Community College.

Hoopes says that — based on the piping plover behavior he observed when he was a graduate student, like the birds taking off when people flew kites near them — he believes a kiteboarding ban is the right call.

“My bigger concern would be to err on the side of caution as it relates to this,” he explains.

The director of the Mass Audubon sanctuary in Wellfleet, wildlife biologist Bob Prescott, says there is anecdotal evidence to back up Hoopes’s research.

“Here, we have people that are coming to our facility to look at birds, and all of a sudden the kiteboarders come whipping through, put all the birds up, the birds are gone, and then the kiteboarders go on their way,” Prescott says.

And the Fish and Wildlife Service says it isn’t required to prove that something is harmful in order to ban it; it simply has to find that any human activities taking place in its refuges are “appropriate and compatible.” And the agency has determined that kiteboarding is not.

“I find that stance to be arrogant,” says Chatham Selectman Sean Summers.

Summers is on the side of the kiteboarders. He says a ban would be the latest chapter in a long story of government overreach to protect nature at the expense of reasonable beach access and recreation, which fuel the Cape Cod economy. The proposed kiteboarding prohibition, Summers says, is one example of why so many Cape residents put stickers on the cars that say, rebelliously, “Piping Plovers Taste Like Chicken.”

“What they’re doing through not only just the over-regulation, but the arrogance with which they do it, they are creating a next generation of folks — kids of these beach goers — who are growing up learning to really have a disdain for species protection,” Summers says, “because of what’s happened to them and what their parents talk about.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service points out that kiteboarding is already banned elsewhere, including along the Cape Cod National Seashore, and it says kiteboarders can still go to other Cape beaches to do their sport.

But kiteboarders like van Amson are incredulous that they could be banned from Monomoy while motor boats are allowed there, and they believe there’s room for compromise.

“Kiteboarders are people who really want to enjoy their craft, or their sport, in nature, in harmony with nature,” van Amson says. “We’re not out there hunting and killing animals. We’re not polluting. This, I think, is the kind of use that you’d want in a national refuge.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comment on the conservation plan through October 10.

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  • 57bobalooie

    Kind of surprised there”s no discussion here. I hear there’s a beach in Virginia that has banned kite sports due to a beetle!(which will likely still be around long after man has caused his own demise) It has been my observation that while the shore birds do indeed “hunt and peck” along the shoreline, they generally nest back in the dunes or estuaries that are sheltered from the winds, waves, tides, etc.
    Doesn’t it seem like all government agencies lately, in their efforts to justify their bloated budgets, are creating more and more regulations? Or is it just me….

  • 57bobalooie

    “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service points out that kiteboarding is already banned elsewhere, including along the Cape Cod National Seashore, and it says kiteboarders can still go to other Cape beaches to do their sport.”
    A.) I don’t believe that justification for a ban at Monomoy can be based on a ban elsewhere. This is just not science.
    B.) Enough bans based on “not science” ends up with NO areas available to practice a sport with less impact to the environment than most…

  • Ramona

    I think I’m missing something. If shore birds are frightened by kite flying on the beach, isn’t that because they see the shadow and perceive a threat? Why would kites flying in the ocean have any impact? Maybe we should err on the side of caution and ban sailboats.

  • JD

    I think flying a kite over birds is different discussion. The only access a kiteboarder needs is a boat or Hardings Beach or other agreed launch. Once on the water kiters can stay away from land and keep over water. Kiters are experienced like other boaters to stay clear of swim areas or keep distance from protected land. I think its VERY important to realize once on the water like any other approved craft we need not run ashore. I can kite all day without leaving even a foot print. I make no noise, leave no pollution, and my sail like that of a sailboat can stay on the water and off the land. Land exposed by tides 100′s of yards off the islands do not have nests. I really would like to keep my distance from the birds. So why is it assumed I need to kite over land. Or walk on this protected land? I am happy accessing the ocean elsewhere. Like a boat its the ocean I enjoy. Like a boat I want to sail the waters…

  • JD

    New England kiteboarders have organized more beach cleanups and supported more ocean water clean ups than you can alone. I have participated in 4 days worth of effort myself to clean Cape and Boston trash. We are very proud of this. We have raised thousands of dollars for the Surf Rider Foundation to keep our beaches clean. New healthy sports should not become us vs them. We want the birds to be happy and I myself am proud of my contributions thats why this discussion is important. Lets learn and talk together vs point fingers. I want to know how we can help and staying over water with the boats seems very reasonable.

  • Susan

    Elaine, that is just a seriously bizarre comment. I’ve been an environmentalist and worked in the field for twenty years. I’ve raised money for the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and many others. I worked for an environmental news organization. I’m also a kiteboarder. I don’t really understand where “arrogant and selfish” come in. I can get into my motor boat, which is noisy and polluting, and go out to Monomoy any time. Once there I can run around, play frisbee, whiffle ball, football, or whatever. Or, I can get on my silent kite and kite out on the open water near Monomoy and enjoy the nature that I love. If there was ANY science WHATSOEVER behind this ban, I would give up my kiteboarding. There simply isn’t. Revere Beach, according to the Audubon Society, which supports this ban, is having a plover miracle comeback. It is the most kiteboarded beach in Boston. There is a kiteboarding school that uses that beach. Here is the article quoting the Audubon Society about the unexpected comeback of plovers on Revere beach. http://www.reverejournal.com/2009/08/05/revere-beach-becoming-an-unexpected-bird-sanctuary/

    The Fish and Wildlife services says we need to prove our activity doesn’t harm plovers. (though they have no proof that it does.) I will happily commission a study if the Revere Beach data and Hardings Beach (plovers doing great. Lots of kiters) along with other beaches where kiters are happily coexisting with increasing plover populations isn’t enough proof for them. I would like to ask the Fish and Wildlife Service to perhaps provide some of the $2500 they spend a year monitoring each pair of nesting plovers for us to commission a study about what actually harms plovers and what doesn’t. I don’t buy the 1990 un-peerreviewed master’s degree thesis about how plovers respond to kids flying a kite on the beach (the plovers fly.) As an environmentalist and a scientist I don’t think I’m asking too much for some actual data. That may seem “arrogant and selfish” to you Eileen, but to me it’s just common sense and good government and good science and a good way to be a member of a community. Insults aren’t really advancing this conversation.

  • Gu@po

    Mr Prescott’s testimony is blatantly overreaching. Kitesurfers coming “all of a sudden” causing the birds to flee?… Do the birds hang out and calmly feed from bather’s hands or boaters when it’s time for them to show up (I doubt he has even read Mr Hoope’s thesis paper)?
    Kitesurfers only fly their kites when there’s enough wind to practice
    the sport; whereas bathers, boaters, sailboats and jet skis frequent
    this sanctuary every day of the summer months. I have been a kitesurfer
    for now 9 years and I can state that plovers, seagulls, terns and other
    shore birds do not move an inch or flee when my kite is above them; either in
    the water or at the shore. The birds continue their feeding, fishing or
    flying activities all the same. The opinion provided by Mr Hoope’s study although helpful for establishing guidelines for conservation of wildlife on the sanctuary, it’s not only biased but outdated. The observation described in his thesis paper only refers to one line kites –the type you get at the supermarket or gas station— and could very well resemble a bigger bird such as a crow, hawk or seagull (TOP on the list of predators of PP chicks). “My bigger concern would be to err on the side of caution as it relates to this”… According to this same thought process then we should expect a ban of all recreational activities at Monomoy.

    • JS

      I agree with your last sentence

  • drensber

    A little sanctimonious, Elaine? Animals lived in your yard long before your house was there. How selfish of you to continue to live in such a dwelling!

    • JS

      Her yard is not and was not a wildlife sanctuary.

  • chris9465

    more liberal crap in massachusetts

  • Susan

    Kitesurfers don’t spend much time in the water unless you’re just learning and the boards are pretty small. It’s more like wake boarding (without the boat). Surfers have a much bigger problem with sharks because they really do look like a seal from below. There was a kiter killed by sharks in Florida a few years ago, but I haven’t heard of any other attacks. And those sharks were not great whites, but some kind of man eater like a bull or a tiger shark, which are more likely to go after people.

  • Doug Erickson

    I live and kitesurf in Santa Cruz California. For the past 30 years, my family and I spend July in Chatham area. When we visit Monomoy, we surf, swim, play frisbee, windsurf, sail, and kitesurf. The only wildlife we have disturbed are the deer flies, when they aren’t disturbing us. We always bring trash bags, pick up other’s trash, and leave the place better than we found it. Several people have commented that the sensible approach is to do an impact study. I agree. A similar approach was taken in Santa Cruz after hikers complained about mountain bike riders potentially disturbing the wildlife along our coastal ranges. UCSC Professor Chris Wilmers conducted a 2-year study, and found that hikers impact wildlife as much mountain bike riders. The only way NOT to impact wildlife is to stop all human traffic. And of course this is not an option. Teaching people to be good stewards of the land and the ocean is a more viable option. And, analyzing data and evidence – rather than hearsay – to address these concerns, would be a very good start.

  • claudineabelson

    my Aunty Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by
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  • alexdifeo

    What a joke. I’m still wondering if this article is a prank if some sort, but then I remembered we are in America “land of the free”.

    I think we should ban people from breathing excessively, as we expel carbon dioxide and it adds to global warming.

  • Pete

    This story scratches the surface. There is a natural conflict between the F&WS’s mandate to provide for enjoyment of our natural resources and their protection. In this case, F&WS proposals on Kite Boarding take the most risk averse approach to focusing only on protection. To summarize their approach, its, simple Kite Boarding is new, we don’t really understand it, we have some sense that kites on land disturb birds so we are deciding to ban kites of all types including kite boarders in the refuge. This won’t be a problem for us because they are few in number, poorly organized and are not among the constituencies that historically supported us. In short, we don’t have to care about their interests and if there is even a small chance that what they do can harm the wildlife we are going to shut them down.
    So as kite boarders we need to show the F&WS that we do matter to them. We can be an ally if we are treated fairly and protest if we are not.
    We can also point to evidence that kite boarders and the birds they care most about are doing well together. As it turns out among some of the most popular kite boarding launches in Massachusetts we also find a significant portion of the state’s Piping Plover population. These have been recovering at the same time that we have seen the sport grow up and mature. Some of these include (Revere, Nahant, Duxbury, West Dennis, Hardings in Chatham, Forest in Chatham, First Encounter in Orleans, Chapin in Dennis, Horseneck in Westport ). The National Parks Service by closing the Cape Cod National Seashore to kite boards over the last few years has given us a natural experiment in which we can test for the impact of kite boarders use of beaches as launches on the birds. Although there are differences between the seashore beaches that are closed to kite boarders and the beaches that offer regulated access to kite boarding as launches the evidence is clear that the beaches with regulated kite boarding access have populations that are doing at least as well as those in the National Seashore that are closed to kite boarders. Some, like Revere are doing significantly better on some measures. A similar comparison between Audubon owned areas (also do not allow kites of any kind) and beaches with kite boards could also be examined but I would be surprised to see a different result.
    In addition, I would also like to point out that Kite boarders have been riding in and around the refuge for close to a decade without disturbing protected species or the F&WS’s efforts to manage the refuge. So again, there is no evidence that we have caused any harm.
    Finally, the current ban on kite boarding is far broader than it needs to be to by any reasonable measure protect the bird species of concern. It is year round and for the entire refuge. It includes times of the year and places within the refuge that are not relevant to the species of concern. It also excludes kite boards from areas where large numbers of motor boats ( 100′s on a typical weekend summer day) pass and commercial and sport fishing activity and even hunting and killing of the wildlife are permitted.
    We don’t even leave foot prints (as a rule we don’t launch and land there), there is no evidence that we harm the wildlife ( the data is out there for the F&WS to see, they just need to look!) and we take nothing all we want to do is enjoy the natural beauty of the place.

  • Jim Canniff

    As a kiteboarder I am still in a state of bewilderment with the proposed kiteboarding ban by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the current, supposed, ban by the National Park Service. Kiteboarding, as mentioned in the article, has zero environmental impact. There is no fossil fuel usage, no smoke, no noise, no unspent fuel dumped in the water, no propeller damage to aquatic life. We aren’t fishing or shellfishing or hunting, nothing is being maimed or killed or harvested in any way. We are flying harmless kites. Our boards don’t drag the sea floor. We spend very little time on the beach, only enough for launching and landing. Other than for this article, we spend no time on the actual beaches of the Monomoys. We kiteboard in the water. Beaches that are popular for kiteboarding are doing fine with plover productivity (West Dennis, Revere, etc.). There are models for successful coexistence. These beaches have areas that are roped off during nesting and fledgling periods and we stay clear. In reality, most of the Monomoy Islands area is so remote that we barely go near them. South Monomoy can really only be accessed by boat. It’s just too far for a kiteboarder to get out to on a SW wind. I can imagine only a handful of kiters are in the waters near South Monomoy during any summer (all summer). We are mostly talking about the Common Flats, which is the area to the west of North Monomoy, and the South Beach area, which is Town of Chatham property that the federal government is seeking to steal. I have been kiteboarding in these areas for 14 years. The Flats are a very safe, fun area for us. It is away from the power boat channels and the water is fairly shallow which makes it extremely safe as we can stand if needed. The shore of North Monomoy is not an area that is needed by kiteboarders. In the years I have been riding there, the beach zones on North Monomoy are typically roped off. All we desire is continued access to the waters around the islands and around South Beach.

  • rc2132

    This is what you get with big liberal govt.

  • http://www.dunoyerfilms.com Jean Dunoyer

    Before you ban kiteboarding, lets have some evidence that we are harming the species. I think not.

  • Cathleen Creedon

    As a year round resident of Cape Cod for many years and an avid outdoor enthusiast, I strongly oppose banning kiteboarding. From the days of Henry David Thoreau, Henry Beston and President Kennedy, the Cape is meant to be loved, preserved and enjoyed. If you take away any one of these three, you are ruining what is precious. I worked years ago for the Trustees of Reservations and open space is our right to enjoy as long as it is done in a non-invasive way. To preserve and not allow for enjoyment is an injustice. To simply say no for the sake of saying no, to simply ban for the sake of banning, to preserve and not allow for human enjoyment will ultimately destroy that which you seek to preserve.

  • Luke Hinkle

    There’s black and white, but we live in the grey.

    I’m a scientist and appreciate that every assertion has uncertainty.
    I have carefully read the only reference provided by the F&WS for the impact of kites on plover behavior. The document– in this case the final, signed thesis, not the earlier draft as provided to the public by the F&WS—is neither consistent nor convincing. Other posts here have pointed out obvious flaws in applying this work to the discussion at hand: that it predates the activity of kitesurfing, that it is not a peer-reviewed publication, and that it was sponsored by the F&WS itself. Perhaps most important, the scant collection of data in this document regarding land kite flying is unsupportive of a correlation between such activity and negative impacts on plover reproductive success. Further, if one attempts to show such correlation between kite flying and plover reproduction rates, the collected data support a theory that the presence of kites may actually improve the likelihood of successful reproduction of piping plovers. This is anecdotally reinforced by the Revere phenomenon also discussed in this thread. But the available data are scant, so I would not contend that this positive effect is proven, not yet. However, let us entertain this theory for a moment.
    What is the greatest threat to plover nesting success? Predation by crows, hawks,
    gulls and other wildlife is often cited in the research literature. Considering
    that, how do these predators react to kites? One can suppose that they may be disturbed by the presence of a kite. Perhaps they perceive it as a superior predator, perhaps a territorial abdication occurs. Is it possible that kites enhance the protection of nesting plovers by being, in effect, a scarecrow against the
    greatest threat—predacious birds, foxes, coyotes and feral cats? If this theory,
    based on reason and correlation of the available data, holds true in the end,
    then the proposed F&WS policy is misguided at best. At worst, it further
    threatens the piping plover population by banning an activity that may indeed have a beneficial impact on this species’ survival.

    We must think carefully before declaring that we are erring
    on the side of caution. In this case, the level of understanding is grey, but the
    proposed policies appear unforgivingly black and white.

  • bijan bijani

    I think Libby Herland is a kite-boarder wanna be or maybe somebody tried to sell her an expensive kite and now she is trying to get back at us! I suggest if we all pitch in and buy her a kite and teach her how to kite-board the problem would go away very fast!!!!

  • Guest

    I think Libby Herland is a kite-boarder wanna be or somebody tried to sell her an expensive kite so now she is trying to get back at us. if we all pitch in and buy her a kite and teach her kite-boarding the problem would go away fast!!

  • John

    I have a PhD from MIT and have learned the critical importance of using actual data to make informed decisions.

    All of the available data currently shows that kiting is actually good for piping plover reproduction. Specifically, beaches with the highest number of kiters (e.g. Revere beach, Hardings beach) have statistically shown a flourishing piping plover population over the 10 years that the sport of kiting has been in existence. In other words, if you consider the actual data on plovers, kiting is positively correlated with piping plover reproduction.

    The Fish & Wildlife Service’s (F&WS) key assumption and rationale for the kiting ban has been that plovers view kites as predators. Given that the data doesn’t support this hypothesis, we need an alternate hypothesis. Mr. Hinkle, in his recent comment, suggested that predators of plovers (e.g. hawks, foxes, etc.) may in fact be scared away by kites. I support his view that a kite-surfing ban may potentially halt the recent resurgence of the piping plover population. I would ask the F&WS to prove that their action to ban kiting will not inadvertently harm plovers.

  • Joe

    In god we trust, all others bring data. There is absolutely no data supporting the hypothesis that kiteboarders in any way harm plovers, the seabed or other wildlife.

    I am disturbed by the direction the F&W is taking here, overreaching in nature. What do I know about birds? Quite a bit, having assisted many broods of rare species over the years who find comfort in my presence. In my 20 years of assisting these broods the only factors correlating to chick’s demise have been predatory birds, pesticides, and blow flies.

    Never once has the presence of humans, kites or gas powered lawn equipment scared the nesting birds or prevented them from building a nest. I have hundreds of log books to prove it.

  • http://www.mainstreetchatham.com/ JimmyFal

    I always get a bit confused by the “Wildlife Refuge” label whenever I bump in to the sharpshooter out there whom is in charge of shooting Coyotes, and the practice of poisoning Seagulls. I’d feel better about calling it a “Bird Sanctuary”.

    But aside from that confusion in my own head, perhaps a compromise should be reached that would allow the flying surfers and the flying birds to co-exist.

    Also the banning of Mussel harvesting, and Scalloping, in the water, and using hand carts to transport clams seems to lack logic and is an unnecessary burden on locals. I mean it’s always nice to have the option to pick up a clam rake to make some $ rather than work behind the counter at Mahi Gold eh?

  • Keith Waters

    There appears to be little evidence and only anecdotal comments to support a kite-board ban. If the basis for the ban is a ’93 thesis of kite flying (not kite-boarding) I think there’s plenty of room for more study before jumping to conclusions. I am no plover expert, but I do understand the difference between a kite and a kite-board and how they are flown.

    My scan of Mark’s ’93 thesis indicates other reasons for plover disturbance. So my “anecdotal guess” would be that another study would will reveal additional human activities which disturb plovers. Such activities may well be more devastating to plovers than kite-boarding (if in fact the data reveals anything about kiteboarding at all !). Being a scientist, I believe in making an educated guess/hypothesis and then test it.

    I am with Barry on this one. Of all human activities in the area kite-boarding is a sport that is extremely gentle on the earth – requiring the wind, muscle power and a few brain cells!

  • Lauren

    I am a doctor who has been kiteboarding since 2007. I must
    say that the approach that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken on the
    issue of banning kiteboarding at Monomoy is the most unscientific approach I
    have ever seen an institution take toward a matter that effects both animals
    and humans, alike. In the world of medicine this approach would be considered
    absurd. There is no sound research to back the proposed hypothesis, and in fact
    there is more credible information to support the contrary view that
    kiteboarders may indeed be helping the piping plovers. Kiteboarding should
    absolutely not be banned. It should be allowed to continue and research should
    be done on the matter. That research should be performed by an unbiased institution.
    At the same time, research should be done about the impact that motor boats
    have on Monomoy, since it is far more likely that the sound pollution of motor
    boats is disturbing the piping plovers than kiteboarding, which offers no sound
    pollution. Kiteboarders do not step food on the lands of Monomoy, whereas
    motorboats anchor and people from those motorboats go on land and are more
    likely to disrupt the plovers with their land-based activities. Because of how
    shallow the water gets near Monomoy, there are few if any areas where
    kiteboarders even get close enough to the land to cast a shadow with their
    kites, let alone scare any birds with their kites. As a doctor, I guide
    management based on evidence-based research, if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife does
    not use this approach with their decision-making, then I think those making the
    decisions at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife need to be more carefully investigated
    to determine if they should continue in their role.

  • Ralph G Morrison

    I like birds.
    I have a birdfeeder and have observed birds for a long time. I get birds as
    small as a sparrow and as large as a pigeon at the feeder. The birds know when
    a threat is approaching, but what always suprizes me is that a bird as large as
    a pigeon (no threat) can come hauling into the feed area and the other birds
    don’t even look up. I feel the reason for that is because the other birds are
    accustomed to the sound of pigeons. I believe that plovers become accustomed
    to kites. In the case of Revere Beach, kites go by day after day and the
    plovers are accustomed to them and don’t see them as a threat. The Hoopes study
    was based on toy kites. He noted that kites scared the birds off the nests for
    an extended period of time. He never mentioned how the kites were flown and how
    long the kite was actually parked over the nest. Kitersurfers don’t spend
    extended periods of time on the beach, they launch and head into the water.
    I’ve seen toy kites tied off and go back and forth in the same position for over
    an hour. If the kite was over a nest I can see how that would be annoying. I
    truly believe that we can co-exist. Mark off the nesting areas and tell us how
    many feet to stay away and all should be fine. Please tell me how I can use my
    tax payer funded public beach instead of shutting me out.

  • Jabberwocky

    Although I’ve been contributing to The Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy for over twenty years, when I see this kind of irrational, unscientific, knee-jerk policy-making, it makes me reconsider where my money is going. (Are they behind this?) There simply is no clear evidence that limiting kiteboarding would help save plovers. Or did I miss something?

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