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Piping Plover Production Up At Cape Hatteras National Seashore


Piping plover production is looking up at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service file photo.

One of the best years in recent memory for piping plover production seems to be under way at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, according to park managers.

Through mid-June, 15 plover chicks had fledged, said Resource Management Chief Thayer Broili.

"We’re having the best year we’ve ever had for fledging piper plover chicks, probably the best in 20 years since we’ve been monitoring down there," he said.

The chief attributed the relatively good success rate in large part to more monitoring and protection of plover nests, but added that a lack of storms likely helped as well.

“We’ve got more staff to do the monitoring and put in the buffers and respond to breeding situations, and then some people would possibly attribute it to the fact that we’ve been a little bit more restrictive to the areas," Chief Thayer said. "But there could be other factors involved. Weather, we haven't had any big storms. Weather plays a big factor in this.”

Some off-road-vehicle groups and surf casters have complained about the restrictions the seashore managers have taken to safeguard the plovers, a threatened species with fewer than 2,000 pairs on the Atlantic Seaboard, maintaining that the seashore overall offers poor plover habitat and that buffer zones places around nests are overly large and can prevent beach access not only to ORVs but also to pedestrians.

In their resource report on the chicks, park managers noted that a number of nests were lost to overwashes, and some chicks to predation.


The facts are the facts, no matter how you try to ignore them in the name of your own cause.  The NPS, along with the Audubon Society and others have decided that saving a specific nesting area of a dozen or so "threatened" species is worth euthanizing hundreds, if not, thousand of other species.  The argument that these predators are ferrel tot he island is not a very good argument.  Aren't all animals ferrel at some point, through migration and other purposes?  And if that is their argument, why do they not carry that same thought process to protection of other species?  Kill all the predators.
Hatteras island is not needed to keep the Piping Plover from extinction.  There are far larger concentrations of the bird int he US.  This move cannot be seen as anything but these special interest groups wanting a human-free Hatteras.
I have ried to review the positions of all involved to make a sound conclusion for myself.  But I cannot find where the NPS or the other groups have made an argument about the facts rather than skewed data.  Like this article, where the author chose not to delve into the facts as to why the population increased.  Take away the humans, kill all predators and hope for a calm storm season and this is what you will get.
In my opinion, the cost is too high for the protection of a species in, what is obviously, an inhospitable area for such a species.  Lets look at this in the context that it should be looked at if the NSP and others truly want to keep Hatteras pure.  NPS and other groups, get off Hatteras Island!  Keep all people off Hatteras Island.  Then lets see what MOTHER NATURE does.  Well, we all know the answer.  The predators will come back, the storms will continue and the Piping Plover will adapt by moving to areas that they find more safe.  Its simple survival instinct.  Its obvious, without the hands-on assistance of the NPS, protecting it from NATURE, the Piping Plover would likely not survive on Hatteras Island.
I swear I will never have any respect for PETA or any other animal rights group, again.  they have done nothing to help the animals in this slaughter.  They too are hypocrites!

There were no bird signs at the end of the 1000 meters. Only brown no ORV signs.  And the truth always matters.

Crot  not only are you late as usual but also wrong. Please go back and read the signs (not assume but READ) again and not matter how you count or where the fact is that less than 50% is all we got!!!!

The majority of the chicks which were lost, were in one location - Ocracoke.
Hatteras had 7 pair, fledged 15 chicks and lost seven chicks.
Ocarcoke had 6 pair and lost 11 chicks (and four nests).

Out of the six historic nesting locations, all of the productivity came from - one.

Had ORVs been present at Cape Point, what makes you think Hatteras' numbers wouldn't have been similar to Ocracoke's because of the disturbance?

ORVs give birth to pedestrians. Pedestrians who ignore signage and like to roam around beachcombing (as well as using the nesting/chick habitat and dunes as a latrine).

There IS NOT a 1,000 meter closure for pedestrians. That is a falsehood. The 1,000 meter plover chick buffer landed between Ramps 43 and 44. Pedestrians were allowed to walk out 44 and from 43 as far south as an American Oystercatcher closure south of 44 near the by-pass. ORVs coming on the beach at 43 were prohibited from traveling further south about mid-way between the two ramps. I know this because I walked it.

Responsible driver,

I have not read any comments or articles in the Traveler that suggest ORV users run roughshod over the beach and believe that the great majority are like you, respectful of the wildlife. However it would be easy to come to the conclusion that many ORV users would do just what you said they do not do when one reads the bumper stickers on ORVs sporting fishing rods here in CHNS. There are bumper stickers that suggest that plovers are best served fried. The "F** You Audubon" bumper sticker sends a different message.

Commentators that post their North Carolina Beach Buggy Association membership number regularly post comments on local chat boards with varying threats to nesting shorebirds in and outside of the Park.

I agree with you that fishermen and fisherwomen are unfairly punished by the actions of a few.

ORVs are driven by people like me, and we do not run roughshod over the beach and kill plovers.  Not any species.  Yes, plover chicks will hide in tire tracks, which is enough reason for protecting their nests with seasonal closures  ... within reason.  But rules designed to punish surfcasters, not simply to protect the plovers, are not reasonable.   And do nothing to enlist we reasonable folks  ... mostly older guys and gals .. who can be reasoned with.  That we are portrayed as crazy ORV drivers, drooling at the mouth to crush chicks, is disingenous at best.

Kurt I will simply add this. Yes 15 chicks fledged, but 16 were killed (none by ORV) This is less than 50% survival rate with ORV's and pedestrians subdued by draconian closure buffers.

If it were true that this venue is unbiased then please show that these closures for all species are Human closures and not just ORV or Pedestrian. If this were truly an ORV issue then why are Pedestrians being restricted as well? Please note that the 1,000 meter buffers are for Pedestrian and ORV even though all organizations I have read about only require or recommend 300 meters for pedestrians. If you set foot inside a closure you will either be warned, ticketed, fined or even jailed.

The Alternative F sets a recovery plan that lists qty's though I do not recall the exact amounts though I believe it is 15 fledged then 30 fledged sustained for 5 years each. This is a direct reversal from what scientist say the island is capable of carrying which is 15 or so. Oh and by the way 15 fledged could have happened with as few as 5 pairs as they lay eggs 4 at a time on occasions.

"Again, this is not a simple issue that can be solved easily or without give-and-take."

There is no give! The rules in place and the ones about to take place leave areas open as "Year round" but close each year in April whether a bird nest or not! It is a win win for the enviros as stating the beaches are open "year round" controls the uneducated ORV crowd until they show up and find it is closed. OOPS

Kurt, Your numbers would have been the same if the Point was open last year. No piping plovers or chicks ever came near Cape Point according to National Park data. Again, it's the outrageous buffers that has everyone divided. Most of my birding books call Cape Hatteras the southern most nesting area for piping plovers. I serious doubt ideal conditions will prevail two years in a row. I'm sure the trapping and killing of natural predators will. America does not want their National Park run by special interest groups that do nothing but take.

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