Two recent and unrelated stories in the newspaper, monkeys (at Yemassee and on Morgan Island) and the hurricane season, renew feelings of dread for an ecological disaster waiting to happen.
Storm surge and high winds could carry monkeys from Morgan Island onto the mainland in the lower ACE Basin. Likewise, high winds and fallen trees could release monkeys from the Yemassee facility into the upper ACE Basin's Salkehatchie Swamp. If this were to happen, they could start to reproduce and spread throughout the ACE Basin. It would be like having feral hogs that can climb. No nesting bird would be safe.
The large rookeries of threatened wood storks, herons, egrets would be destroyed, as well as wood ducks and song birds. Even the young of mammals that rely on dens in tree trunks would not be safe. Hunters would not be able to control this population because parts of the ACE Basin are impenetrable to humans. The DNR should terminate their lease of the island and ensure that every animal is removed. The Yemassee facility should also be closed. These monkeys should not be housed along the coast in storm-prone areas. Unless this is done, I'm afraid it is not a matter of "if," but "when." The funds that the state Department of Natural Resources receives for the lease of Morgan Island are not worth the risk to the ecological integrity of the ACE Basin. No amount of money is.
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