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Carteret County Threatens Legal Action Over New Federal Loggerhead Turtle Protections

Loggerhead sea turtle
Wendell Reed, via Flickr, Creative Commons

Carteret County's Board of Commissioners voted file a letter of intent to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service over new protections for the loggerhead sea turtle. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is considering declaring parts of Carteret County a critical habitat for the turtles. They are currently designated as a threatened species by the Endangered Species Act.

The Carteret County Shore Protection Office claims that existing protections for loggerhead turtles are enough, and that new guidelines would hurt business and tourism in the area. Pete Benjamin, who directs the Raleigh Field Office of the Fish and Wildlife Service, says the new rules will only affect federal activity.

"What it does not do is affect any of the ongoing beach activities like access to the beaches, sunbathing, recreational activity, beach driving," he says.

Greg Rudolph, Carteret County's Shore Protection Manager, presented the letter of intent to the County's Board of Commissioners at a Monday evening meeting. Rudolph says key parts of the process to designate a critical habitat have been ignored by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We were like, what else do you want us to do?" said Rudolph. "Unless you clearly articulate that, this critical habitat proposal is absolutely bogus. Almost everyone was like, wait a second this state, the county, and the everybody already does a lot for the conservation of the loggerhead already."

A final decision on the designation will be made next year. If approved, it could affect over 700 miles of coast in six Southern states.

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