P.E.I. piping plover nest obliterated by dog, says Nature Trust
'We don't have very many piping plovers on P.E.I. so when we lose a nest it is very disappointing'
P.E.I.'s dwindling population of endangered piping plovers just got a little smaller after staff of the Island Nature Trust discovered a ruined nest last week on the beach at Tracadie, P.E.I.
The trust had just finished its annual piping plover census last week and thought they had some good news to share: a pair of the tiny shore birds had built a nest on Tracadie beach, and were sitting on a single egg.
"We returned the next day to put up our regular piping plover nesting signs and rope, and we found it was destroyed by a dog," said Julie-Lynn Zahavich, stewardship coordinator with the Island Nature Trust.
Officials believe the culprit was a canine, as they found dog tracks through the nesting area and digging at the nest, accompanied by human tracks. The prints were too large to be a fox, Zahavich said.
"We don't have very many piping plovers on P.E.I. so when we lose a nest it is very disappointing."
Staff notified provincial conservation authorities, and they're asking beach-goers to obey signs advising them to stay out of roped-off areas.
Tracadie is not part of the P.E.I. National Park, where dogs are prohibited in the summer, and Zahavich notes many people bring their dogs there to run off-leash.
'Low year' for plovers
"You could take your dog on a leash to a beach and walk near water, that's what we recommend," she said, asking Islanders not to let their pets roam freely in natural areas.
The census revealed just 55 piping plovers on P.E.I. this year, scattered mainly on remote beaches along the north shore as well as around Souris, Panmure Island and Wood Islands.
"This is definitely a low year for the plovers on P.E.I.," said Zahavich.
The Nature Trust is also reminding people to keep beaches clean to discourage predators, and not to drive vehicles on the sand.
It's against the law to harass an endangered species, including the piping plover.
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With files from Brian Higgins