Canadian conservationists call for more protection of the piping plover in its Caribbean wintering grounds

Piping plover. Image credit: Billtacular

Cross-border conservation cooperation is essential for the preservation of migratory species like the piping plover, which spends summers in North America and winters in the Caribbean. Canada’s CBC News reports that Canadian conservationists want more protection of the plover in its winter habitats:

It’s a mystery with enormous consequences for the survival of a species: where do piping plovers from eastern Canada go when they head south for the winter?

Shannon Mader, species at risk co-ordinator with P.E.I.’s Island Nature Trust, said despite the efforts to protect them on their northern breeding grounds, “we’re still not seeing a recovery.”

“So we do believe that something is happening during migration or over winter.”

A study by Environment Canada that began in 2013, which included putting tiny bands on the plovers, has started to turn up clues as to where the plovers go.

P.E.I. plovers have been spotted this winter in the Bahamas, the southern states of Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina as well as, for the first time, Bermuda.

“It’s so nice to hear, you can picture them down there on the beach with the palm trees,” Mader said.

But some may not be making it back. The number of plovers in eastern Canada is declining — a 37 per cent drop over the last 10 years — said Jen Rock, wildlife biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Sackville N.B.

On P.E.I., there is a guardian program to protect the piping plovers and their habitat. Rock would like to see similar efforts in the Caribbean.

“Some groups are working towards initiating very similar sort of guardian programs down south, for example, in the Bahamas, but certainly it’s absent across most of the Caribbean,” she said.

“Anything to protect these birds would make a difference and would potentially help the population.”

“I think we here on the breeding grounds tend to think of them as our birds, these are P.E.I. piping plovers, but they spend more than half the year somewhere else,” Mader said.

“We can put all of this effort in here on the breeding grounds but if there’s no protection on the wintering grounds then they’re incredibly fragile.”

Read more in the full article from CBC News.


[Image credit: Billtacular]

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