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Posted on: March 26, 2019

City of Gloucester Announces Continued Efforts Regarding Piping Plover Protection

City of Gloucester Announces Continued Efforts Regarding Piping Plover Protection

--No dogs allowed on Good Harbor Beach effective April 1

--Volunteers needed to monitor plover nesting areas

--Upcoming piping plover event

GLOUCESTER, Mass. (March 26, 2019) – The administration of Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken announced today ongoing planning and preparation regarding Gloucester’s Piping Plover Protection Program. Piping Plovers were added to the US Endangered Species List in 1986 and designated as “threatened” along their Atlantic coast range. The City’s plan was created to assist in the preservation and restoration efforts on a local scale.

In 2018 the City’s Conservation Office undertook extensive efforts for the protection of nesting Piping Plovers on Good Harbor Beach. These efforts included a combination of weeks of in-office coordination and on-site oversight, assistance from multiple branches of city government and dedicated volunteers donating over a thousand hours for “on-the beach” monitoring and nest security. 

In preparation for the 2019 season Mayor Romeo Theken’s administration has been working with the Animal Advisory Board, the Conservation Office, Department of Public Works, and the City Council to enhance this program and increase its effectiveness. Additionally, City officials met with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, and Essex County Greenbelt. Ongoing collaboration with internal departments and external organizations has resulted in a thoughtful approach to this season. The City has been commended for its continued efforts.  

Mayor Romeo Theken said, “We’ve been working with all interested parties to put together a comprehensive plan to help the Piping Plover population here in Gloucester. Thank you to all involved for your commitment to this species.”

The Piping Plover Protection Plan

The Piping Plover Protection Plan establishes a multi-faceted approach to assist in promoting the protection of nesting Piping Plover adults and their chicks on Gloucester public beaches.  The plan incorporates proposed education, signage, electronic communications, on-site monitoring, government and institutional coordination, protective barriers, and better fencing to minimize human-related disturbance and enhance Piping Plover nesting success and chick survival.

The odds of survival are stacked against Piping Plover chicks in general but considerably more so on public beaches. Primary risks arise from human disturbance and, to a far less controllable extent, natural predation and inclement weather. Human and human-related disturbance (i.e. domestic animals on beach, litter and food on beach attracting predators) can be harmful to plover chicks during egg incubation and chick rearing. Disturbance can force plover adults from the nest, exposing eggs to harmful temperature variations or predation and may also separate chicks from their parents, making them more vulnerable to predation or preventing them from feeding.

Essex County Greenbelt has generously agreed to donate protective fencing which is scheduled to be installed on Thursday March 28. The DPW is committed to providing personnel in building or maintaining beach structures and/or adjusting its necessary beach cleanup processes and schedules to support the plovers. Continued and enhanced cooperation from all City residents and visitors is an essential part of this plover protection effort.     

Ordinance Change to Begin April 1

Gloucester residents are reminded that as approved at the February 26, 2019 City Council meeting an ordinance change is set to begin on April 1. The ordinance now reads: Dogs shall be prohibited from Good Harbor Beach from April 1st– September 30th annually. 

Mayor Romeo Theken said, “We wanted to remind everyone of this ordinance change set to begin next week. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.”

The City is preparing for this new ordinance change by updating all signage around the beach.  Additionally, the Gloucester Police Department plans to have Animal Control Officers enforce violations with extra patrols planned.

Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are an essential component of a successful plover monitoring effort. The City is currently recruiting volunteers for the upcoming season. Dozens of volunteers, likely more, will be needed if an effective monitoring effort is to be maintained. Anyone wishing to volunteer should reach out to this years’ Volunteer Coordinator, Alicia Pensarosa at GloucesterAAC@gmail.com

Mayor Romeo Theken said, “We had a tremendous group of volunteers last year that were committed to their work. Please consider signing up again this year to help implement the City’s plan. By volunteering you will help make Gloucester a better place.”

All volunteers will be provided with on-site training. Training will include both inspection-related training (bird behavior, camouflage, monitoring) and public interaction and conflict reporting procedures. Training will also include identification of telephone contact (police, animal control, etc.) in case of emergency or need for immediate enforcement.

Volunteers will be outfitted with indicia of responsibility and also be identifiable to beachgoers and kiosk personnel.

Upcoming Programs

On Saturday March 30 at 10:00 am, Dr. Katherine Parsons, Director of the Coastal Waterbird Program for Mass Audobon, will be giving a presentation on Piping Plovers titled Piping Plover Ecology, Management and Conservation. 

This program is free and open to the public and will be held at the Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library in the Friend Room. Anyone wishing to learn more about Piping Plovers or have general questions should plan to attend. 

About The City of Gloucester, Massachusetts

America's oldest seaport, the City of Gloucester is known throughout the world as an authentic, working waterfront community, a place of spectacular natural beauty, and home to a diverse population of approximately 30,000 residents. Its sharp focus on economic development has helped build its reputation as the ideal location to live, work, and play. An important center for the fishing industry, Gloucester is also proud of its vibrant cultural life and rich art heritage. Gloucester is a destination for thousands of visitors who visit the harbor and its beaches during the summer months. The City will be celebrating its 400th Anniversary in 2023. For more information please visit www.gloucester-ma.gov.

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