Piping Plover population bouncing back - which may mean more beach restrictions

QUINCY, Mass. — It’s a sure sign of spring in Massachusetts. Local beaches are fenced off to protect the little coastal bird called the Piping Plover.

“I think preserving nature is more important than a beach day,” said Joey Kayan of Quincy.

Kayan says that even as summer approaches but for beach lovers the Plover can be a problem.

Lyra Brennan is the director Mass Audubon Coastal Waterbird Program, a plover expert, she says nesting begins in April but some Plovers start later and can nest right through early September.

“They make small nest bowls in the sand and each of these must be protected,” said Brennan.

“I can see why people are maybe upset about t because they want to use the whole beach but there’s no one else who’s going to protect the birds,” said Danielle Staelen of Quincy.

Plovers are listed as threatened by the state which began protecting habitats began in the 1980′s and Brennan says it’s paid off.

‘It’s something that here in Massachusetts we should be celebrating. It’s an incredible conservation success,” she said.

According to Mass Wildlife, in 1986 there were only 140 breeding pairs of plovers.

But in 2022, that number jumped dramatically to 1000+ breeding pairs on the state’s beaches.

An entire area of Wollaston is now fenced off due to Piping Plover. With a resurgence in the population more and more beaches across the state will see more areas closed down because the birds are nesting. That has gotten a mixed reaction from beach goers.

“I can understand why some people don’t love it,” said Carrie Kayan of Quincy.

The Plovers success means more beaches will see more restrictions, even busy ones like Crane Beach in Ipswich, to beaches in Revere and Winthrop. Even the urban beaches like Carson and Wollaston as well as Cape beaches like Sandy Neck and the National Seashore.

But in the end that co-habitation shows people and Plovers can live together.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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