Threatened Snowy Plover Nesting Season 1997 Underway at Point Reyes National Seashore
Contact: John Dell’Osso, 415-464-5135
Point Reyes National Seashore has historically been an important nesting and wintering area for threatened snowy plovers but over the past decade the numbers declined precipitously. The cause for the decline was primarily due to predation by ravens. With this general decline, staff at Point Reyes National Seashore, in partnership with research biologists from the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO), began to place fencing around nest sites on stretches of sandy beach. These fencing "exclosures" allow the snowy plover to move in and out freely yet exclude the larger ravens from entering the nest site.
With the additional protection of the exclosures during the 1996 breeding season, nearly 18 chicks hatched as compared to 2 chicks during the 1995 season!
Superintendent Don Neubacher is asking park visitors to keep a safe distance from the exclosures during the spring breeding and nesting season period of time. If approached too closely, the plovers may move away from the nests which could leave the eggs or chicks vulnerable to predation. The nesting season is typically over by July. So far this year, five nests have been protected by exclosures.
For the past decade, the non-profit Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) has been ensuring critical resource issues are addressed and species are protected through funding efforts to the National Seashore. Projects such as construction of exclosures to protect the federally-threatened western snowy plover, numerous restoration and rehabilitation projects after the Vision Fire of October, 1995, and removal of non-native plants from critical resource habitats have been funded by PRNSA.
Some of the significant projects that PRNSA is currently providing funding for is the continued protection of snowy plover nests along the beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore and the restoration of habitat for the federally-endangered coho salmon.
When President John F. Kennedy signed legislation to authorize the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore on September 13, 1962, he knew the importance of saving and protecting a portion of the diminishing undeveloped seashore of the United States. Today the coastal sanctuary at Point Reyes is one of the most-visited national parks in the country, hosting over 2.5 million visitors annually. It’s world-renowned for its scenic vistas, and it’s home to thousands of plants and animals, including 60 at-risk plant and animal species.