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How Slaughter Beach became a certified wildlife habitat

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Though the town’s name might not suggest it, there’s a lot of life that thrives in Slaughter Beach.

This month, the town officially became a certified wildlife habitat, a designation given by the National Wildlife Federation. It’s one of three certified wildlife habitats in the state and the only one along the Delaware coastline. 

To be certified, the town needs to have at least two open spaces, residents to certify their yards as habitats and they have to be engaged in educating the public about the local environment, among the various requirements.

Normally, this certification would take up to a couple of years after the initial application, but the Slaughter Beach received it within just a couple of months. Longtime resident Bill McSpadden says it’s because of the town’s enthusiasm for protecting and promoting nature, which he felt for most of his life in Slaughter Beach.

 

“A lot of the appreciation for nature came from being down here as a kid," said McSpadden. "We got to know and respect the horseshoe crab. They were kind of a pain because we couldn’t get in the water as kids to swim while they were spawning, but when you got older you got to learn about the importance of them.”

 

Slaughter Beach is became a horseshoe crab sanctuary in 2005. The Delaware Bay is the largest spawning area in the world for horseshoe crabs.

 

“When I used to walk the beach, I’d see a horseshoe crab flipped over and a footprint next to it and [that tells me that the person] kept walking," said McSpadden. "After we became a horseshoe crab sanctuary, now when I walk, I see a footprint and I see a trail of a horseshoe crab that was flipped and had gone back into the water.”

 

The town of Slaughter Beach will have an event to celebrate its certification on May 30, along with the National Wildlife Federation and its Delaware chapter, the Delaware Nature Society.

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