I hope Bo Petersen’s June 27 article titled “Coastal, other bird species in trouble” will be read by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources staff who regulate the local horseshoe crab harvest, which provides critical compounds used in medical testing.

Last month, the Charleston Natural History Society hosted a boat trip to see red knots, tiny shorebirds that migrate from Chile to Canada, stopping in South Carolina for a crucial refueling on the eggs of horseshoe crabs.

In Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, we clutched binoculars and exclaimed over the throngs of horseshoe crabs surfacing to lay their eggs and the density of shorebirds feeding there.

Then someone asked me: Do they collect horseshoe crabs here?

When I asked, an eloquent DNR staff member explained how DNR’s lawyers interpret the law, with an end result that no one makes sure the crabs are not harvested in the refuge, not even on islands that are closed altogether by federal regulation.

Most of our beaches are accessible to the public, many frequented by dogs and thus inhospitable to exhausted migrating birds.

Surely we can allow the age-old interaction between migrating birds and horseshoe crabs to continue in peace on select islands within a National Wildlife Refuge. We can do that much for a federally listed shorebird on an epic migration.

Jessica Norris, Ph.D.


Charleston Natural

History Society

Oak Crest Drive

James Island