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One of the first signs of spring on Fire Island, piping plovers have returned. On Sunday, March 13, Fire Island National Seashore park rangers reported sightings the first of this year's tiny shorebirds upon their arrival along the south shore of Long Island. Three birds were spotted between Watch Hill and Long Cove, and another four birds were seen near Sailors Haven. Because these beach dependent birds are listed as federally threatened and New York State endangered species, they are afforded extra protection on Fire Island and other South Shore beaches.
During the breeding and nesting season, pets are restricted from designated portions of Fire Island National Seashore's ocean beach. Additional areas may be restricted as nesting sites are selected. Fire Island National Seashore's resources management staff and plover monitor interns begin installing symbolic fencing during late March or early April, to demarcate suitable piping plover nesting habitat. Staff conduct daily patrols to monitor breeding and nesting activity from April through June. As a nest with a full clutch of four eggs is established, the plover crew constructs a predator exclosure around the nest.
From March 15 through Labor Day, pets are restricted at the following Fire Island National Seashore locations:
- On the ocean beach from the east boundary of Robert Moses State Park to the community of Kismet (includes all of the beach in front of the Fire Island Lighthouse)
- On the ocean beach between Oakleyville and Cherry Grove in the Sailors Haven/Sunken Forest area
- From the western boundary of Smith Point County Park west to Long Cove (in front of the Fire Island Wilderness and just east of Watch Hill).
- Additional areas will be closed as necessary due to actively nesting piping plovers.
Pets are not permitted at any time on lifeguarded beaches (Watch Hill, Sailors Haven, Barrett Beach). Pets are also not permitted in Robert Moses State Park or portions of Smith Point County Park. Several Fire Island communities also prohibit dogs and other pets on the beach.
For more information, contact park headquarters at 631-687-4750.