Off-Road vehicle owners in Plymouth, Mass., are demanding to be allowed to drive over beaches where Piping Plovers and other endangered species of birds are nesting.

For 5000 years or so, Piping Plovers, Roseate terns, and other endangered birds have been nesting on Cape Cod’s beaches. State and federal officials have stepped in with regulations and policies to protect the birds for the few weeks that they’re nesting.

Most beaches are not closed entirely – beachgoers are simply asked to stay away from marked areas where nesting is going on. Motor vehicles are entirely excluded in many places, because they’re considered too much of a threat to the birds.

In the past, careless drivers have run over the nests with impunity, and even when they haven’t, the noise is disturbing to the nesting birds.

Off road vehicle users, at least here in New England, are not generally known for their consideration of other people’s property or sensibilities – in New Hampshire they routinely take down stone walls, cut down trees, or anything else that stands in their way. They routinely ignore signs along trails in protected areas where vehicles are prohibited. To top it all off, they’re increasingly vocal about their right to do so.

Today they’re taking their case to a legislative hearing in Boston. Hopefully someone will remind them that it was their behavior in the past that prompted these regulations.

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