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.