For years one of my favorite places to go to take bird photographs was Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (PINWR). I even spent three years there following the day-to-day activities of nesting Ospreys that was turned into a presentation that has been shown all over Florida. As time went by other photographic interests took up my time, making trips out there less frequent until now years have gone by without a visit.
With some free time at year’s end I decided to go out there and visit all the old photographic haunts that proved so fruitful in years past. Wow, was the visit a bust! It has nothing to do with the birds, which are still there, but the people who visit. And it is the same problems that I would encounter years ago so little has changed. The Refuge is situated in an area where only people with a considerable amount of money will have the luxury of living nearby. This makes the Refuge their own little park regardless of the posted signs saying no biking on the trails or no dogs allowed to name two of the more common violations. Despite the large signs at the trailheads warning against such behavior, I was subjected to people riding bikes or walking with unleashed dogs on the trails. Years ago I used to point out to people that they might have missed seeing the large and obvious signs stating that such things were not allowed and in response I would either get a smart aleck remark for my trouble or, my favorite, the explanation that it was okay because they lived there, meaning nearby. I never could figure that last one out or how it gave them dispensation to break Refuge rules simply because they lived next door to it. So the Refuge is now on my proscribed list to be revisited at some future date after I build up my patience again.