MESSAGE FROM MAYOR SEFATIA REGARDING GLOUCESTER’S PIPING PLOVERS

Message from Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken  

The Piping Plover is a “threatened” species under both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.  As such, the City, along with the Commonwealth, is required to protect them under the law.  Having said that, we are committed to making every effort possible to protect the nesting Piping Plovers at our beaches while, at the same time, maintaining public access.
Piping Plovers typically arrive from their southern wintering areas to our local beaches in late March or early April.  Males and females quickly form breeding pairs that begin the process of courtship and select a nest site throughout April and May. During these months, it is critically important to limit any disturbance of the birds and their habitat.Chicks can hatch from nests in late May and are immediately mobile and move out of the nest in search of food.  As chicks grow older and larger, they will roam from the dunes to the water’s edge in search of food. Chicks are very vulnerable to human disturbance and are susceptible to predators like gulls, foxes, and dogs.
While dogs are allowed to run free during this time of year on many of our beaches, that right does not supersede the requirements under federal law to protect the Piping Plovers on those beaches.  Unleashed dogs can pose a very real threat to Piping Plover adults and chicks.  As such, dog owners are responsible for controlling their dogs and keeping them as far away from Piping Plover areas as possible.  The owner of any dog that adversely or negatively impacts the Piping Plovers and their habitats will be in violation of federal law and will likely face legal action.
Please keep a close eye or your dog during this Piping Plover season.A Piping Plover nest is a mere depression in the sand.
Male and female Plovers do not begin sitting on the eggs 24/7 until all are laid, which takes about a week. Especially during that time, the eggs are often left exposed and are extremely vulnerable to being stepped upon by people and dogs.

9 thoughts on “MESSAGE FROM MAYOR SEFATIA REGARDING GLOUCESTER’S PIPING PLOVERS

  1. Keeping a close eye on the PiPls, plus seeing that unleashed dog owners are not permitted to let their dogs run into the roped-off areas, is needed. WHY don’t people ‘get it’? Perhaps tying plastic flag garlands on the ropes would hep as well. Anything to help insure these endangered birds is a necessity.

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    1. Good idea Anonymous! I thought of banners too, but then thought it would only serve to attract gulls and crows. The bright colors and banners blowing in the wind would disturb the PiPl, too.

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  2. Is it possible that I saw Piping Plovers nesting on a sand gravel area in Georgetown? I know they are shore birds, but the birds i saw looked and acted like them! TUIA for helping me figure this out!

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    1. What you may have seen Kathleen are Kildeer, which are another species of plovers. Kildeers are technically a shorebird species, but they will oftentimes nest far away from the ocean. Kildeers love to nest in gravel and will go wherever they cab find it!

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  3. The Mayor and City Councilors are merely paying lip service to their obligation to protect Piping Plovers. When are they going to admit their error in permitting dogs on beaches during the nesting season? You can’t have it both ways, Sefatia. The City can’t cave to the dog lobby and allow dogs on beaches during Plover nesting season and then pontificate about the importance of protecting Plovers. Amend the Dog Ordinance now to keep dogs off beaches.

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  4. I think Mayor Sefatia truly cares. The problem is that the Piping Plovers have arrived one month earlier than the previous two years. The earliest record that I have of the PiPl in 2016 is May 15th (they may have been earlier, but I wasn’t as aware then as today). In 2017 I have documentation of May 3, 2017, and this year, they arrived on April 3rd. I too believe the ordinance should revert back, but there wasn’t enough time this year to make changes.

    We can surmise it is probably the same pair (or at least one of the adults is the same) because each year they nest within feet of the previous year’s nest. As the pair matures, they will arrive earlier and begin nest building earlier too, which would actually be tremendous if they were allowed to nest early in the season.

    Because the leash ordinances currently allow dogs off leash , the only way we are going to be successful is if we work together as a community, help each other understand what is happening with the PiPl, and do our utmost best to protect this tiny shorebird on the busiest of beaches 🙂

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