For years, Maine Audubon has been working on behalf of Piping Plovers, which are listed as an endangered species in Maine and are threatened under federal law. Each spring, the birds make their nests on many of the beaches of southern Maine. People love watching plovers scurrying across the beach — especially when they are tending their tiny chicks.
Many of these people are pet owners, too. Over years of talking to beachgoers, we have met countless people who are both pet-lovers and plover-lovers. While unleashed dogs and outdoor cats around those beaches pose a real risk to plovers and their nests, caring for the two is not mutually exclusive. Many people have expressed an interest in showing their support for both their pets and the plovers.
Enter #pets4plovers. In 2016, we collaborated with students at the University of New England and talked about this very issue. The students suggested a social media campaign as a way to connect with dog and cat lovers. By demonstrating that dogs can enjoy the beach on leash (or go elsewhere during nesting season) and cats can stay indoors and away from plover beaches, we’re aiming to partner with pet owners as key allies in the work of endangered bird conservation.
That’s why we created the #pets4plovers bandana. Over the course of this summer, we will be distributing these bandanas free to pet owners on plover beaches. If you’re walking your dog on a leash near our exclosures, look for a staff member and ask for a bandana your dog can wear proudly!
Then, show your (and your pet’s) plover solidarity and commitment to conservation by sharing photos of your pet in their handsome new gear. Use the #pets4plovers hashtag and we’ll get a great conversation going online about the importance of working together in support of wildlife conservation!