In the face of human disturbance, some animal species have managed to thrive while others are at a disadvantage. In addition to coping with lots of human activity on the beaches during breeding season that can scare the birds away from their nests, piping plovers must also fend off many natural predators to survive. Predators such as foxes, skunks, raccoons, and gulls have adapted well to human-disturbed environments.
Protecting nests and keeping predators away from Piping Plovers is not disrupting the natural process of predation. Rather, it is being mindful of and taking responsibility for the fact that human presence and activities are undermining the survival of some of the creatures with whom we share our world. We protect the nests by putting up a symbolic stake and twine fencing to keep people at a distance so that they will not cause stress to the birds. We also erect “exclosures” around nests to keep out predators.
During the last couple of years these management methods have been shown to significantly increase the hatching and fledging success of Piping Plovers, and, working collaboratively with landowners is integral to the process. We are lucky to have many landowners who see it as blessing to have an endangered species nesting on their land and do everything possible to protect them. This year we hope that many more will join in this noble cause by embracing our work.
Written by Erik Ndayishimiye.