SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Like the tides, the population of piping plovers ebbs and flows. After crashing to just over twenty nesting pairs in 2007, the population has begun to rebound, with roughly 45 pairs now raising their young in the sandy beaches of southern Maine.
"They are tough, they are resilient, but they just need our respect, really," explained Maine Audubon wildlife biologist, Laura Minich Zitske. "They have always been able to handle a certain amount of predator activity, but the problem is we come to the beach, we use it, and we leave our mark."
She says there are many things that can have a negative impact on plovers, including natural predators like foxes, heavy rains and astronomical high tides, but what really concerns her are the careless actions of people and their pets.
She says despite signs in place warning people about the plovers presence, many people do not pay attention. She is hoping that by getting the word out there about how fragile these endangered birds are, that people may change their ways.
"Just a minor change in behavior may be a slight irritation or annoyance for you, it is literally life or death for these guys," she stated. "Just putting your dog on a leash or taking your dog to a different part of the beach, maybe that is not ideal for you, that can really be a life or death situation for these birds."
Biologists with US Fish and Wildlife, the Rachel Carson Preserve, Maine Audubon and Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife are joined by volunteers to monitor the birds throughout the summer, and put up signs, as well as protective fencing, to give the plovers a helping hand. They also provide education for beachgoers about the birds.