May 12, 2017

MDIFW NEWS -- IFW To Host Informational Meeting Concerning Endangered Piping Plover And Least Tern Management Activities on Popham Beach

For Immediate Release May 8, 2017

PHIPPSBURG, Maine -- On Tuesday, May 16th, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will hold a public informational meeting regarding Popham Beach State Park Piping Plover and Least Tern management activities planned for the 2017 nesting season. This meeting will be held at the Bath City Hall, 55 Front Street, Bath on May 16th at 7:00 pm.

Both piping plovers and least terns are on the state endangered species list. Once down to only seven nesting pairs in the state, piping plovers rebounded to 66 nesting pairs in 2016 . Least terns nesting pair numbers dropped to 39 in 1982 but have slowly climbed to over 200 nesting pairs statewide. Habitat loss and lack of undisturbed nest sites are two of the primary factors jeopardizing populations of piping plovers and least terns. Protection of nesting sites and plover and tern chicks are one of the keys to fledgling success.

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands beaches support 20% of Maine’s nesting population of Piping Plovers. Least Terns nest at only 4 sites in Maine, including Popham Beach. In 2016, Popham Beach had 22 nesting pairs of Least Terns, however the terns were unsuccessful most likely because of impacts from beachgoers, predators, and/or environmental conditions.

Last summer at Popham Beach State Park, four pairs of Piping Plovers made 10 nesting attempts on the sand bar adjacent to the Morse River. Nest washing and predation were the two main contributing factors for the large number of nest attempts. In total, Popham Beach fledged 5 chicks from the four broods that hatched.

In order to increase nesting and fledgling success, IFW and its partners protect nesting sites by installing temporary fencing directly around the nesting site. Nests are also monitored by staff and volunteers, keeping people and pets away from the nesting sites. IFW also oversees a predator management program on the beach that removes foxes, raccoons, skunks and other predators through regulated trapping.

Predator management at Popham in 2016 was conducted throughout the nesting season beginning in May and continued until August 31 when the last piping plover brood had fledged.

Over the past 10 years, this predation management program has helped reverse a population decline and subsequently rebuild Maine’s piping plover and least tern populations. Productivity rates (number of fledglings per nesting pair) on beaches with predator management have substantially surpassed the productivity rates on beaches where no predation management was conducted. Beaches with predator management have an average 2.05 productivity rate as compared to beaches without predation management that have an average of 1.51 productivity rate (during 2007 – 2016). Predator management efforts have contributed to a statewide increase in nesting plover pairs from 24 pairs in 2008 to 66 pairs in 2016.

To hear more about Maine’s Piping Plovers and Least Terns and our efforts to protect and sustain these Endangered Species please join us May 16.

For more information please contact:

Brad Zitske Wildlife Biologist Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife 207 657-2345 Brad.zitske@maine.gov

Charlie Todd Endangered Species Coordinator Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife 207 941-4468 Charlie.todd@maine.gov

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