Sea Turtle Program Under Attack in Texas

Sea Turtle Program Under Attack in Texas

December 5, 2020
Petition to
Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and 1 other
Signatures: 40,335Next Goal: 50,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Marilyn Litt

There is something terrible going on at Padre Island National Seashore. The new superintendent of Padre Island National Seashore, a man who is not a scientist, has endorsed a changes that will gut and defund the Kemp's ridley sea turtle program run by Dr. Donna Shaver, a celebrated scientist. 

                             ONLY YOU CAN STOP THESE CHANGES!

             Comment HERE to the National Park Service (NPS) by March 14

UPDATE! Although a Review gave them the authority to defund the sea turtle program (accomplished), leave all nests on the beach to be destroyed, and prevent driving on the beach, the National Park Service wrote it in such a way that some people thought there was no threat and did not believe us.

Now the National Park Service is clearly saying what they will do and are asking for public comment on their plans to destroy what makes Padre Island Seashore special. The National Park Service is speaking clearly because now they are sure YOU cannot stop them. 

We believe they are working with a Texas State Legislator to revise the Texas Open Beaches Act to prevent a lawsuit over the changes. Although the news stories are about property owners, we believe the real purpose of the bill is to prevent lawsuits when Padre Island National Seashore closes driving on the beach.

This is something that non-locals do not understand. They think driving on the beach must be dangerous to the turtles.  It is just the opposite. No turtles have been hit by cars, but many nesting or injured turtles are reported by visitors, allowing the turtles to be helped. The only practical way to get 20 miles down the beach to fish or bird watch is to drive!

We are also concerned that a local nonprofit will be cooperating with the National Park Service and Padre Island National Seashore to "whitewash" changes to the turtle program. In other words, this nonprofit will take over turtle management from the National Park Service scientists to make it look as if the turtle program is in good hands, while at the very same time taking unscientific actions that will decimate the turtle population.

                               THEY WILL ALL BE DESTROYED.

If not destroyed by our high tides, they will be 100% predated by coyotes, fire ants, opossums, or raccoons.  Right now, the Kemp's ridley is our most endangered sea turtle. The only thing protecting this turtle is the collection of their sea turtle eggs, which are then monitored and released with as much protection as is possible.

Staff, Rangers, and volunteers make sure the beach is clear of predators and then they raise netting over the hatchlings as they make their necessary crawl across the sand to the sea. If the nests are left on the beach, there will be no eggs left to hatch and no other protection will be given as a hatchling makes that perilous crawl to the Gulf, if by some miracle an egg survives to hatch.

The two primary nesting locations for this most endangered of sea turtles are Padre Island National Seashore and a beach in Mexico. Reducing this program in Texas will put the entire Kemp's ridley species at even higher risk of extinction.

                           ONLY YOU CAN STOP THESE CHANGES!

         Comment HERE to the National Park Service (NPS) by March 14

Dr. Shaver was not invited to contribute to or even read the Review or the new Pre-NEPA document which will destroy the sea turtle program at Padre Island National Seashore. She is the foremost authority on the Kemp's ridley turtle and it is her sea turtle program. Instead, she was preemptively placed under a gag order not to comment before the Review was ever released.

She may not be able to comment, but her whistle blower complaint says plenty. Dr. Shaver, who is celebrated worldwide, is sacrificing her career in an an effort to save these sea turtles.


Local Nick Myers needs your help contacting Congress!

ANY MEMBER OF CONGRESS CAN CONTACT HER AND COMPEL HER TO SPEAK! Do you have influence?  Have your member of Congress call to talk with Dr. Shaver! 

Here is some of what is proposed in the Pre-NEPA document.  There are a number of proposals in the document to camouflage what they are really going to do.  Let us make it clear for you:

From the document - The Seashore is considering potential options for sea turtle management, including:

• Adjust research and operations (e.g., do not relocate every nest)-- THIS WILL KILL ALL THE HATCHLINGS.

• Strandings / rehabilitation / release of juvenile and adult rehabilitated turtles –
redefine extent of Seashore involvement and release locations--THIS IS THE WHITEWASH. They will turn over turtle management, I should say mismanagement, to a nonprofit.

• Hold fewer public hatchling releases and/or limit crowd size; focus releases on
public education --THEY ARE ALREADY DOING THIS. They have gone from 24 plus a year to 5 or fewer. Public education was the reason public releases were started in the first place! The hatchling releases were the biggest draw to the park. They do not want visitors to the park!

The Pre-NEPA document also addresses beach driving. Remember how the review spoke in coded language so people did not believe what we said was being said?  Let us just put the changes to beach driving in our own words, not the coded language of the Pre-NEPA document.  BEACH DRIVING WILL BE PROHIBITED APRIL THROUGH JULY.  The rest of the year, you will pay a hefty surcharge.

Our National Seashore is 60 miles of undeveloped island beach. If you are not driving, you cannot go very far down that 60 miles to fish or birdwatch. We also believe this document could open the door to development on the Laguna Madre side of the beach, which is the area opposite the Gulf coast. Currently this is undeveloped National Park Service land and is an undisturbed eco-system that was in place before the Karankawa tribe was exterminated or displaced.

A way of life on Padre Island National Seashore is being threatened, not only for turtles, but also for tourists and residents. The sea turtles which nest at Padre Island National Seashore don't  belong to the park or to Texas. They should be protected by the National Park Service which should be stewards for them.  In this case, the stewardship has failed, so contact your Senators and Representatives and object to this travesty. An unspoiled area basically unchanged since recorded time will pass into history.

We demand this proposed changes be turned down. ONLY YOU CAN STOP THESE CHANGES! Comment HERE to the National Park Service (NPS) by March 14

In addition to sending in your comment to the National Park Service and signing this petition, it is vital that Secretary Deb Haaland be made aware of what is happening at Padre Island National Seashore. This is a small park that does not get much attention from the Department of Interior. You may email Secretary Haaland,

If we save the park, we must amend the Padre Island National Seashore enabling legislation to include sea turtles, so future park management will be under a mandate to protect the program.

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Signatures: 40,335Next Goal: 50,000
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Decision Makers

  • Secretary Deb HaalandDepartment of the Interior
  • Department of InteriorPress Office