Cape Cod National Seashore Officials Revisit Plan To Kill Crows To Help Piping Plovers

Cape Cod National Seashore officials, who earlier this year were proposing to kill crows in an effort to protect piping plovers, are backing away from the plan due to the prospective of being sued over the matter. Instead the seashore will spend this year reviewing its shorebird management plan.

Crows have become a problem on the national seashore because some have developed a taste for plover, and they exploit this taste during the Mach-May nesting season. While seashore biologists try to protect nesting plovers by placing exclosures -- a wire cage that has squares large enough for plovers to pass through but not crows -- around nests, some crows have figured out that they can get around this by landing with force atop the exclosure and, in effect, scaring the plovers out.

But when seashore officials started talking about using a poison to convince crows that exclosures should be avoided, some folks who love crows rose up in protest and threatened to sue the seashore over the plan.

That threat was enough to get seashore officials to back off.

“With the very real threat of a court challenge, we need to make sure that all our planning and management documents are ready for legal review – we do not want a misplaced comma to divert us from the ultimate goal of successful recovery of a threatened species,” Superintendent George Price said the other day in explaining the new course of action.

The seashore will continue to work closely with wildlife biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is the federal agency charged with implementation of the Piping Plover Recovery Plan. Predators, including the American crow, continue to be a major factor in the lack of successful nesting productivity on the seashore. Seashore biologists estimate that more than one-third of the plover eggs are eaten by crows each nesting season.

While seashore officials go over their shorebird management plan and continue to invite public comments on how best to deal with crows and plovers, shorebird management activities will continue as in previous years with the use of exclosures to protect nesting plovers from predators. In addition, the seashore will implement a flexible shorebird management approach this summer on several high visitation beaches.

You can find details on the seashore's approach to shorebird management at this page.