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News & Releases
Mountain-Prairie Region


USFWS Asks Public to Share the Beach with the Piping Plover

June 12, 2014

Piping plover on the shore. Credit:  USFWS
Piping plover on shore. Credit: Jacob Gross/USFWS.

Less than 3,000 piping plovers remain in North America, which is why they are listed as endangered in the Great Lakes and threatened on the Atlantic coast and in the Northern Great Plains. Piping plovers are small, stocky migratory shorebirds and more than half of the continent’s population nests in North Dakota.

This year, due to rising water levels, plovers are running out of shoreline at North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea. This has caused the species to nest in areas where they normally might not choose, including high traffic areas near parking lots and boat ramp areas.

Piping plovers are very sensitive to human presence. Too much disturbance causes the parent birds to abandon their nest. People (either on foot or in a vehicle) using the beaches where the birds nest sometimes accidentally crush eggs or young birds. Dogs and cats often harass and kill the birds. Other animals, such as fox, gulls, and crows, prey on the young plovers or eggs.

Our biologists, working in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, are taking measures to protect the nests, including installing protective barriers around the nests and installing signs asking the public to keep out of nesting areas. The incubation period for the eggs is 28 days and it takes another 28 days before the chicks are able to fly.

In the meantime, we appreciate the public’s patience as we ask them to share the beach with these amazing birds. Watch local coverage of our work to protect piping plovers on Bismarck’s NBC affiliate, KFYR-TV: http://bit.ly/1oXLpQG

– FWS –

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Office of External Affairs

Mountain-Prairie Region

134 Union Blvd

Lakewood, CO 80228


303-236-3815 FAX



Office of External Affairs
(303) 236-0345

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: June 12, 2014
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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