March 21, 2011
Shelley Hall, Chief Natural Resources Management , 508-957-0737
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 are listed as threatened under the Federal and Massachusetts Endangered Species Acts. The National Park Service 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.
Kites also disturb the nesting and feeding behaviors of endangered shorebirds. Kites are perceived as large predators flying over the birds. This may scare the incubating parent off the nest, exposing the eggs to predators, hot or cold temperatures, cause nest abandonment, or disrupt feeding of the adult birds and their chicks.
To protect plovers and other ground nesting shorebirds including least terns and American oystercatcher, effective April 1 through September 30, no pets or kite flying will be permitted on Coast Guard Beach south of the former Coast Guard Station in Eastham, and at Jeremy Point in Wellfleet.
Also effective April 1, kite-surfing/boarding is prohibited on Cape Cod Bay-side beaches and Cape Cod Bay waters within the national seashore until the last chicks in the area have fledged. Additional sections of the seashore’s ocean and bayside beaches that support nesting shorebirds may also be temporally closed to pets and kites.
In areas where dogs are permitted within the national seashore, they must be leashed. Cape Cod National Seashore Chief Ranger Bob Grant 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 regardless of town regulations. Pets must be on leash to prevent them from disturbing people and other pets, from harassing wildlife, and for their own safety.
The Cape Cod National Seashore staff appreciates your cooperation and assistance.