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Tulsa Golfers Threaten Endangered Birds' Nesting Ground

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Image of the terns' habitat in the Arkansas River in Tulsa. Image of the terns' habitat in the Arkansas River in Tulsa.
Image of nearby apartments, from which Park Rangers believe the golfers were hitting the balls. Image of nearby apartments, from which Park Rangers believe the golfers were hitting the balls.
Image of one of six signs placed all over the area warning people not to play golf in the area. Image of one of six signs placed all over the area warning people not to play golf in the area.

Laura Moss, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Some Tulsa golfers are taking aim at a protected habitat along the Arkansas River.

Wildlife workers designated an area for the Least Tern, an endangered bird here in Oklahoma, but someone has decided it makes them a good driving range... but it's illegal.

"It's a federal offense that can have civil or criminal charges," said Angela Burgess, Fish & Wild Life Biologist.

Burgess says using a natural habitat as a driving range will get you in big trouble. They created the habitat to protect the endangered Least Terns and their nesting area.

Fines for this offense can hit up to a $100,000 and even get you a year of prison time. And area pranksters have been warned extensively.

"It's well marked and we hoped that no one would go out there," Burgess said.

Six signs are up all over the area warning people not to play golf in the area. Biologists say it's important for the survival of this species that you stay away.

"They currently have adults, eggs, chicks and fledglings on that island," Burgess said.

People tromping around and golf balls flying through the air will disrupt the nesters, causing them to leave their eggs unattended and without shade. Effects that could wipe out this small population of the species

"Hopefully they're not playing too much golf out there. Hopefully it stops," Burgess said.

Park Rangers say they believe the golfers were hitting the balls from nearby apartments down towards the Least Tern nesting grounds.

"They found a flag that was put in the middle of island that we think may have been related to the golfing," Burgess said.

If you have any information about this crime, Fish and Wild life services would like to hear from you directly.

You can contact them at 918-382-4523.

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