Maine Forest Service Smokes Out Scarborough Plovers

(Burn photo credit: South Portland Professional Firefighters, Local 1476)

Billows of thick, acrid smoke blanketed much of Scarborough’s shoreline from the Spurwink River to Prout’s Neck for much of the midday on Friday, April 14.  A reverse-911 call to residents from the Scarborough Fire Department reported that the smoke was from a “controlled burn” on Richmond Island off Cape Elizabeth by the Maine Forest Service.  The message stated that the smoke was “not an emergency situation.”

We beg to differ.  Folks with breathing issues in particular disagreed.

But another group was even more seriously impacted – our beloved piping plover population.  With their tiny lung capacity and inherent survivability issues, the little guys were devastated by the toxic plume.  The bird wardens at Higgins Beach were beside themselves running from plover to plover administering CPR and Narcan and generally comforting their enfeebled flock. 

Chief Executive of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Plover Bureau Laurent Vogeljaeger said the situation was dire.  “This is worse than the weasel invasion of 2007 or the great tidal wash-out of 2015.  These little birds have enough challenges already without the Maine Forest Service smoking them out,” he said, apparently referring to the limited intelligence of the species. 

(A.A. Milne memorably referred to the lovable Pooh Bear as a bear “of Very Little Brain.”  The same characterization might well apply to our favorite avian summer visitors.  And we’ve always half-suspected that the impassioned interest of ornithologists in the plovers may have something to do with the species’ migratory pattern of overwintering in the Cayman Islands… it makes for a nice spot to do a few weeks of “field work” along about January and February.)

(Remember the parrot in the Monty Python skit who was “just resting…”)

As soon as the smoke began rolling in, Vogeljaeger contacted Dr. Anthony Shah at the Centers for Avian Disease Control in Washington for assistance.  “Fortunately,” said Shah, “plovers wear the same size N95 mask as bats, and we had just received a new shipment of the masks from Wuhan at our Chevy Chase warehouse. Unfortunately, though, the masks intended for Richmond Island, Maine, ended up being expedited to Richmond Island, Washington.  By the time the error was discovered, it was too late,” Shah lamented.

State officials are reportedly at a loss on how to compensate the remaining plover population for the controlled burn catastrophe.  We shudder to think what they may come up with.  In any case, our best wishes to the little guys.  Rock on, little puffballs!

It’s good to be back!

Well, friends and neighbors, it’s been a while since we’ve been in touch.  Thanks to those who reached out with wellness-checks.  It’s been a hectic several months in old Scarborough Town and we’ve been preoccupied with tilting at the windmills of Town governance.  (Without much luck, as you know if you’ve been following the Town Hall capers.) 

But springtime brings a renewed sense of hope and purpose.  So we have sharpened our metaphorical sword and plan to rush headlong into the battle against the forces of unlimited growth but limited commonsense.


Coming soon…

Our next two issues are rapidly taking shape now and will be launched on an unsuspecting public in the near future:

  • In one issue we’ll reveal the first known case in New England of Municipal ADHD.  This condition, typically found in much larger cities, is characterized by elected and appointed officials being unable to focus on the core functions of the municipal operations or the concerns of their constituents.  We’ll explore the symptoms, the diagnosis and treatment of this debilitating condition that impacts us all.         
  • In the other issue, we’ll take you inside the Fiscal 2024 Town and School budgets.  You’ll get a firsthand look at some of the many gimmicks, schemes and ploys that have been secreted in this year’s budget.  Watch your tax dollars dance!  Prepare to be amazed!

That’s all for now, folks.  Happy trails until we meet again!

Be neighborly, 

TT Hannah

(Blog name of Steve Hanly, who is solely responsible for the above contents.)

(And just for the record, the blog is parody.  Perhaps not good parody, but parody nevertheless.)

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