Piping plovers are creating nests on Atlantic Coast beaches on the heels of a successful 2019 season. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the population climbed from 1,879 pairs in 2018 to record high of 2,008 pairs breeding last summer from eastern Canada south to North Carolina.
This marks a conservation milestone 35 years in the making from the cooperation of several organizations and many public beachgoers. The record high numbers are due in part to a widespread implementation of “management practices” such as installing symbolic fencing around nests, leashing dogs, posting caution signs, reducing predation, and trusting beachgoers to be conscious of their behavior near the fenced areas around nests.
U.S Fish and Wildlife service piping plover recovery coordinator Anne Hecht had this to say about the conservation victory: “While we still have much work to do, the growth we’ve seen in the Atlantic Coast piping plover population, especially in New England, is the clearest possible evidence that we can achieve and maintain recovery, we are incredibly grateful for decades of ongoing dedicated conservation by all levels of government and other organizations.”
Piping plovers have been under protection from the Endangered Species Act from 1986, with just 790 breeding pairs along the Atlantic Coast. The 2,000 pairs achieved this season is a strong accomplishment and goes one step further to achieving one out of five science-based goals created in the population recovery plan. There are still challenges left to face in the recovery of the species, such as even population distribution along the Atlantic coast to minimize the risk of the species being affected by a natural disaster, and instituting long-term management agreements with partners, maintaining chick production, ensuring genetic diversity, and maintaining wintering areas where the birds spend the majority of their time during the year. Long term efforts will be necessary in putting into place all the pieces required to bring a species out of endangerment.
For more information on the work of the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, go to http://www.fws.gov/ or connect to their Facebook page and other social media platforms.
Piping plover photo courtesy of Wikipedia