Piping Plovers Recording Record Numbers

CHATHAM – Mass Audubon has reported record numbers of Piping Plovers, an endangered species, nesting on the coasts of Massachusetts.

Preliminary data has shown that approximately 1,145 pairs nested in Massachusetts, which is an increase of more than 500 percent since the data collection was started, said Lyra Brennan, Director of Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program.

“It was an amazing season for the Coastal Waterbird Program. We are a statewide program, we work all the way up on the north shore, the islands, Cape Cod, south coast, you name it. We’re out on the beaches protecting nests with fencing, providing education, sharing information with folks, and actively protecting a rare species on our beaches,” Brennan said.

The data was collected by the MassWildlife’s Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP), which has worked with the Mass Audubon on the Coastal Waterbird Program since 1986, when there were fewer than 200 breeding pairs of Piping Plovers.

Some of the major obstacles the endangered species has encountered include aggressive beach development changing the ecosystem, and driving vehicle use on beaches, says Brennan, leading to the decline in numbers.

“Nowadays some of those challenges remain, there’s just a lot of disturbance on the beach, there are a lot of predators that are very excited about beach nesting birds, and dogs, even though we love dogs, ones that are not necessarily following the rules of the beach, can unintentionally injure or kill listed species,” said Brennan.

Another concern for the species is sea level rise and climate change which is changing the habitat rapidly forcing the species to attempt to adapt.

The organization will continue to look into ways to help the coastal birds regain their population, which officials say will take time as they work on beach closures and rule changes to help in the battle.

About Zachary Clapp

Zack is a graduate from Cape Cod Community College who is an avid sports fan and loves everything radio.  Zack joined the CapeCod.com NewsCenter in 2023.

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