Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ Releases 2017 Piping Plover Report

Nov 29, 2017
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill

One hundred five pairs of piping plovers nested in New Jersey in 2017 – a slight decrease compared to 115 pairs last year, according to a report released this month by the nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. However, productivity, at 1.29 fledges per pair, remained well above the 30-year statewide average of 1.01 fledges per pair.

“This marks the fourth consecutive season yielding sustained, high productivity,” said Emily Heiser, CWFNJ wildlife biologist. “Although this is good news, productivity still falls below the federal recovery goal of 1.50 fledges per pair established in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Plan for Atlantic Coast Piping Plovers.

“Throughout the range, it is accepted that high levels of productivity generally correlate to an increase in pair number the following breeding season. We had hoped to see an increase in pair number here in New Jersey this year, but that was unfortunately not the case, (with) little explanation as to why that happened.”

For the 12th consecutive year, Conserve Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with NJFWS’s Endangered and Nongame Species, assisted in monitoring and managing the state’s Beach Nesting Bird Project. Four species are regularly monitored throughout the field season: piping plovers, which are federally threatened and state endangered; the state-endangered least tern; the state-endangered black skimmer; and American oystercatchers, which are a species of special concern in the state.

As Heiser explained, “Piping plovers are of particular concern as their numbers continue to decline and federal recovery goals have not been achieved.”

Several sites performed well in 2017, the report notes, and others demonstrated modest success, including in Barnegat Light, Long Beach Township and the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.

“Continued declines in the southern portion of the state and only moderate successes elsewhere leave much to be desired,” said Heiser. “It will take several more years of increased population and higher productivity to move towards recovery.”

Read the 2017 Piping Plover Report at conservewildlifenj.org. —J.K.-H.

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