Piping plovers return for another season to #MiddletownRI beaches. If you visit either Second or Third beaches, make sure to take care.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 842-6543 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (MAY 23, 2023) – Piping plovers are nesting at Middletown’s beaches for another season.
Recently, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service official announced two pairs were nested at Second Beach and another nearby at Third Beach.
Based on the latest counts, the Fish & Wildlife Service said there are close to 60 active nests across Rhode Island spanning from Westerly to Block Island. The three pairs in Middletown are the only documented plover on Aquidneck Island.
“Piping plovers nest in Middletown because the beaches have the habitat that they rely on — coastal dune systems with sandy or rocky beaches,” Fish & Wildlife Service Plover Coordinator Maureen Durkin said. “The fact that they keep coming back means that they perceive the habitat as a good spot to nest, and have been successful enough that the population has sustained itself and even increased up there. Beachgoers will notice that the birds tend to stick to the protected and quieter areas of the town and refuge beaches, which shows that they do need space and protection from disturbance to successfully hatch eggs and raise chicks.”
“We’re glad the plovers are back,” Middletown Facility & Operations Manager Will Cronin added. “It shows the steps we’re taking to make our beaches clean and inviting are working.”
Largely hunted and pushed out of existence in the last century, plovers have made a stunning comeback in recent years mostly as a result of the environmental measures designed to protect them.
Until 2001, there hadn’t been a confirmed sighting of a plover on Aquidneck Island for more than 50 years. That’s when plovers were seen on the rocky southeastern section of Second Beach bordering the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge overseen by the Fish & Wildlife Service.
Plovers have returned to Middletown every year since to varying levels of success. According to the Fish & Wildlife Service, one of the two nests at Second Beach has failed, but those plovers continue to work to reestablish another spot.
Because of the fragile nature of the birds and their nests, beachgoers are reminded to be aware of the presence of plovers.
This includes watching where you walk, steering clear of signed and roped off areas and leashing all dogs.
The protections help improve the chances the plovers breed successfully and see their numbers continue to grow across the region.
Fish & Wildlife data shows most of the plover nests are in South County. The ones closest to Middletown are on Block Island and the Quonset airbase in North Kingstown.
“Public cooperation is essential for the piping plovers and least terns success on any beach, but especially in a busy area like the Middletown beaches,” Durkin said. “It's extremely important for the public to stay out of closed areas on the beach, only bring dogs on the town portions of Second and Third beaches during the designated hours — before 7:45 am — and keep dogs on leash at all times during these hours.
“The last point tends to be the most difficult, as not everyone complies with leash laws. Please remember that Rhode Island and the Town of Middletown have leash laws, for the safety of birds and people alike. Even if your dog doesn't chase birds, they cannot tell the difference between a dog and a coyote or fox, and may abandon their nests or young if frightened by a dog. Dogs also have a natural instinct to chase, and this can cause serious harm to these threatened species. If the public sees off leash dogs on Second and Third beaches, they should call Middletown Police or the town’s Animal Control Officer.”
Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/8716/NYCU-Plover