Tree hugger may refer to: a slang, sometimes derogatory, term for environmentalists. There is a non-profit organization: Tree Huggers of America; an Alliance of Sensible Concerned Citizens, Advocates of Reason, Rational and Common Sense. Sensible, reason, rational and common sense are oxymorons. Fanatics of any cause are not sensible, rational or have common sense.
Several years ago I attended a public hearing to discuss changing the manatee speed zones on the Intracoastal Waterway in Broward County. Of the twelve speakers only two people (I was one) thought the speed zones didn’t need to be changed. I pointed out that over the past thirty years only several manatees were killed by boats and that was in Port Lauderdale by huge ships.
One of fanatic tree huggers jumped up and shouted “I guess it’s OK to abuse children as long as they are not killed?” I chose not to respond to this rational and sensible person. I sold my boat several years ago thinking I didn’t have to worry about the tree (manatee) huggers.
I moved to Venice and joined the Italian American Club. The club has two bocce courts in the back of the property. There are several tall pine trees next to the courts. One of the trees has a nest, which has been there for years. The nest is owned by a family of American Bald Eagles.
In 2007 the bald eagle was removed from the list of threatened and endangered species. Although they are delisted, bald eagles are still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act. Non-motorized recreation and human entry (including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, canoeing) If you walk, bike, canoe, camp, fish, or hunt near an eagle nest during the breeding season and your activity will be visible or can be heard from the nest stay at least 330 feet from the nest. None of these activities near a nest would disturb the eagles if the activity cannot be seen or heard from the nest. There is no mention of playing bocce ball near a nest.
We play bocce only on Mondays. When the eagles are nesting several people come every day to watch and photograph the eagles. Not only is our club private property, the bird watchers can disturb the eagles more than bocce. The only incident that I’m aware of is the day I rolled the white pallino. The eagle thought an egg had fallen from the nest and she swooped down and picked up the pallino. After trying to hatch it for a day, the mommy eagle threw it out of the nest.
The last day we played, a group of eagle watchers showed up claiming they had a baby eagle that had fallen from the nest and they wanted to put it back. They were very nasty and suggested we move the bocce courts. We are next to the Venice airport and small jets use the airport. Apparently eagles don’t mind a jet flying over the nest. But rolling a bocce ball can cause premature egg hatching.
The eagle watchers chased off the crew that was installing new carpet on the courts. Then an armed FWC (Florida Wildlife Commission) officer showed up. I don’t know why they need guns. Maybe they have to deal with cattle wrestlers. Officer Andy introduced himself. He was very courteous and said they just wanted to put the baby eagle back. I said it’s OK with me; how will he get back into the nest? Andy said when they open the cage he will fly up to the nest. It took three people to carry the cage, take off the cover and open the door. The baby eagle hopped out of the cage and flew away, nowhere near the nest.
I mentioned to the eagle watcher that there was an eagle nest on top of a light post in front of Kohl’s Department store in Sarasota. I suggested Kohl’s should close during the nesting period. The lady looked like I was crazy. What’s crazy if the manpower and dollars spent on birds that are not endangered. The FWC budget for 2015 is $289 million as opposed to the Veterans Affairs budget of $114 million. On a national basis the US Fish & Wildlife Service has a budget of $2.8 billion.
I don’t run around shooting eagles, manatees or kick dogs. But, the money spent on these animals is mind boggling. I am thankful that the tree huggers were not around 65 million years ago; otherwise dinosaurs would still be walking around