With the return of spring, piping plovers have also returned to their breeding grounds on outer Cape Cod. They are now courting and establishing territories in preparation for nesting. Piping plovers continue to be listed as a threatened species under the U.S. and Massachusetts Endangered Species Acts. The National Park Service, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, carries out management of the plover at Cape Cod National Seashore.
Piping plovers are ground nesting birds and raise their flightless chicks on beaches where they are vulnerable to predators, storm tides, and human disturbance. They are particularly sensitive to the presence of dogs. They perceive dogs as predators and are more readily disturbed when a dog is approaching than when only people are approaching. An even greater threat occurs when dogs are off-leash. Most loose dogs naturally chase any movement on the beach including adult plovers and the flightless chicks, which can be killed in the process.
Kite-flying also disturbs the nesting and feeding behaviors of endangered shorebirds. Kites are perceived as large predators hovering over the birds. This may scare the incubating parent off the nest, exposing the eggs to predators, cause nest abandonment or disrupt feeding of the adult birds and their chicks.
To protect the plovers and other ground nesting shorebirds including least terns and American Oystercatcher, effective April 1, and until further notice, no pets or kite flying will be permitted on Coast Guard Beach south of the former Coast Guard Station in Eastham and Jeremy Point in Wellfleet. Additional sections of the seashore’s ocean and bayside beaches that support nesting pairs may also be temporally closed to pets and kites.
In areas where dogs are permitted, they must be leashed. Cape Cod National Seashore Chief Ranger Steve Prokop would like to remind everyone that federal law requires that dogs be on a leash (no longer than 6 feet) at all times while in the seashore. Pets must be on leash to prevent them from disturbing people and other pets, from harassing wildlife, and for their own safety. Ranger Prokop explains that seashore rangers have documented many dogs off leash each year, and the number of citations written for this violation is on the rise.
The Cape Cod National Seashore staff appreciates your cooperation and assistance.
[Source:Cape Cod National Seashore]