Tag Archives: #sharetheshore

GLOUCESTER’S PIPING PLOVERS NEED YOUR HELP TUESDAY NIGHT

Dear Friends and Volunteers of Gloucester’s Piping Plovers,

I hope so much everyone is having a great winter and, despite the usually freezing temperatures, is able to get out and enjoy.

I am writing to let you know that this coming Tuesday, February 26th, at 7:00pm, Gloucester’s City Council is voting on an issue that will have tremendous impact on our Piping Plovers.

The single, most important issue facing the Piping Plovers is prohibiting dogs from beaches where they are nesting. This must begin on April 1st. I don’t have to tell our volunteers how incredibly important this change will bring because we were all witness to countless dog disturbances, particularly during the month of April. Innumerable dogs constantly disrupting the nesting area are why our PiPl pair was forced into the parking lot, a highly unusual and dangerous outcome.

Without the ordinance change in place for the month of April, there is nothing that the police, the Animal Control Officers, or the volunteers can do to enforce disruptions. From eleven eggs hatched on Good Harbor Beach in recent years, only one chick survived. I know that with support from the community in regard to the ordinance changes, the odds of chicks surviving will increase exponentially.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), which also applies to threatened species, specifically prohibits the “taking” of Piping Plovers. Taking doesn’t only mean killing, taking also includes harassing, harming, and removing. The ESA requires Federal agencies to take action to prevent further harm and harassment, and our City is at tremendous risk for fines and beach closure, not to mention the terrible publicity it would bring.

To be clear, dogs are not the only issue affecting the Piping Plovers, but they are the reason they were driven into the parking lot. I am writing to you as a former dog owner, and as a member of a family who hopes again to one day welcome another dog into our lives.

Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee submitted the Piping Plover recommendations and ordinance changes after many months of solid research. City Councilors Scott Memhard, Melissa Cox, and Paul Lundberg put forth the ordinance change. Councilors Steven LeBlanc, Sean Nolan, and Jamie O’Hara then held a special Ordinance and Administration meeting, voting unanimously to bring the ordinance change to City Council, which brings us to this coming Tuesday.

Now it is up to us to show up in full force Tuesday night!!!

If you wish to speak in favor of the ordinance change, Alicia Pensarosa from the Animal Advisory Committee has forwarded some guidelines, which I think you will find helpful if you do not have experience giving public testimony. Here is the link:

http://www.citizenadvocacycenter.org/uploads/8/8/4/0/8840743/guidelines_for_preparing_writing_and_giving_testimony.pdf

If you would like to show your support for the PiPl, but don’t want to give testimony, you can simply come forward, state your name and address, and say, YES, I am in favor of the ordinance changes.

As you know, a small group has been spreading a great deal of misinformation on this issue, which has made the PiPl discussion much more challenging and convoluted than necessary. Please, please come show your support for the Piping Plovers and the ordinance changes to prohibit dogs from beaches where the birds are nesting. Deborah Cramer, Heather Hall, and myself will be giving testimony, and we will only be successful if we have many more. Also, you don’t have to be a Gloucester resident to come.

If you have any questions, please email Heather, or email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. Please let either of us know if you a planning to attend.

Attached are my notes that were presented to the City Council back in January when we first became concerned that the ordinance changes had been deliberately stalled. Also attached is a copy of the ordinance the councilors will be voting on, a list of articles about how dogs threaten the PiPl, and probably the strongest argument regarding the safety of the PiPl is a list of Massachusetts beaches, the number of chicks fledged at each beach, and the dog ordinance at each beach. I compiled this list from the Mass Wildlife 2017 Census Report, and added the dog ordinances, beach by beach. As you can see, April 1st is the cut-off date chosen by the vast majority of coastal towns.

Please don’t feel like you have to read everything attached; it is only provided to help give background. Just come Tuesday night, and say YES, you are in favor of the ordinance change. Thank you, dear Friends of Gloucester’s Piping Plovers.

With very best wishes, Kim

When: Tuesday, February 26th at 7pm (6:45)

Where: City Hall, Kyrouz Auditorium

 

Treading Lightly

Happy Palentine’s Day

Two Snowy Boys

ADVOCATING FOR THE PIPING PLOVERS

Last night we spoke during open comments at the January City Council meeting. Many, many thanks to Councilor Steven LeBlanc for the advice on how to address the councilors, and to all the councilors present for taking the time to listen, including Scott Memhard, Sean Nolan, Paul Lundberg, Melissa Cox, Valerie Gilman, James O’Hara, and Jen Holmgren.

We are working toward the goal to see the recommendations in place by April 1st of 2019, before the Piping Plovers arrive at Good Harbor Beach. These recommendations were first given in writing on July 9, 2018 to Mayor Sefatia and the City Council.

The following are the concerns and recommendations presented to the councilors on behalf of the Piping Plover volunteer monitors.

January 22, 2019

Piping Plover Recommendations

On behalf of the Piping Plover volunteer monitors, we are submitting our short list of recommendations regarding the Piping Plovers nesting at Good Harbor Beach. Our goal is to have in place by April 1, 2019, measures and ordinances that will greatly increase the likelihood that the hatchlings of this tiny threatened shorebird will have a fighting chance at surviving life on Good Harbor Beach.

Piping Plovers began nesting at Good Harbor Beach in 2016. Each year, the PiPl are coming earlier and earlier. In 2016, they arrived mid-May, in 2017 they arrived at the beginning of May, and this past year, they arrived on April 3. It would appear that the same pair is returning to Good Harbor Beach, as the male marks his territory and attempts to build a nest scrape only several feet from the previous year’s nest (at Boardwalk #3 nesting area).

More Plovers than ever were seen at Good Harbor Beach this spring, and if not for constant disturbances by dogs in the Boardwalk #1 nesting area, we would have had two pairs nesting on the beach.

Why are the birds arriving earlier and earlier? We can presume that the pair are more experienced travelers and parents and that Good Harbor Beach is their “territory.” Does this mean we will eventually have dozens of pairs nesting on Good Harbor Beach? No, because the PiPl are very territorial and they will defend a fairly large area, preventing other PiPl from nesting in their site.

This past year the PiPl pair hatched four chicks. All four chicks were killed by either crows, gulls, or dogs. All three are human-created issues, and all three can be remedied. The following are the four recommendations and actions we wish to see take place.

Recommendations

1) Change the dog ordinance to not allow dogs on the beach after March 31.

Currently, dogs are allowed on the beach from October 1 to May 1. The Piping Plover volunteer monitor core group, Dave Rimmer from Greenbelt, Mass Wildlife’s John Regosin, and Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee all recommend that dogs should not be allowed on Good Harbor Beach beginning April 1st.

This new suggested time frame will allow birds to nest on the beach (as opposed to in the parking lot), with far less interruption, shorebirds will nest earlier in the season, which will help with the chicks survival rate, and the chicks will be stronger by the time Good Harbor fills with summer crowds.

This is a very logical and simple solution. Disallowing dogs on Massachusetts coastal beaches where shorebirds are nesting, beginning April 1, is the norm. Allowing them to return after September 30 is also very common. For Piping Plovers and other nesting shorebirds, protecting their habitat and sharing the shore is a matter of life and death.

2) Rope off the nesting area by April 1.

Poles, with threatened species signs, and a triple row of roping of nesting sites, to be in place no later than April 1. Essex County Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer will assist with this measure.

3) Enforce the existing ordinances regarding dogs (and littering) at all times throughout the year.

 Only enforcing dog ordinances at Good Harbor Beach during nesting season is creating hostility toward the Piping Plovers.

Additionally, we do not recommend extremely high fines as we feel that may become an impediment to issuing and collecting the fines.

We know of at least one example where the magistrate dismissed the tickets issued to a woman who claimed to have a service dog. This woman was running rampant on the beach and throughout dunes with her service dog off leash throughout the entire time the PiPl were nesting, from April through May. Despite the fact that former dog officer Diane Corliss caught the woman on camera with her dog off leash on the beach, and in the dunes, all the tickets that were issued by the animal control officer were dismissed. This is neither fair to the officers who are working hard to keep the dogs off the beach or to the plover volunteers who are spending inordinate amounts of time trying to keep the PiPl safe.

4) Increase trash collection.

When no barrels are placed at the entrances to the beach, people dump bags of trash there anyway. When barrels are in place, people put trash in the barrels however, when the barrels become full, they again resort to leaving bags of trash behind, only next to the barrels. In either scenario, gulls and crows are attracted to the trash. Both gulls and crows rip open the bags and the trash is blown throughout the parking lot and marsh, soon finding its way onto the beach and into the ocean.

Hungry gulls and crows waiting for people to leave their trash behind eat tiny shorebirds.

Thank you for taking the time to consider our recommendations.

Can these recommendations be actionable for the spring of 2019?

Piping Plover chick spreading his wings.

 

Great Blue Heron Times Four

Last week we posted a photo of a group of Great Blue Herons, Cormorants, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and Great Egrets all foraging together on a rainy morning. The Great Blue Herons are so perfectly camouflaged when perched on the rocky shoreline and we asked how many GBH folks could see. Reader Julie W. saw the most and she even sent the photo back with the Great Blues circled. Thank you Julie for taking the time to do that!!

 

TWO TERRIFIC WILDLIFE PRESENTATIONS UPCOMING AT SALEM STATE UNIRVERSITY

JENNIFER JACKMAN SHARES THE FOLLOWING:

On Monday, November 5, from 2:30-3:50pm in Veteran’s Hall B, Ellison Campus Center, Salem State University, Dr. Andrea Bogomoloni, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Chair of the Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium will speak on “Seals & Society: Biology, Ecology and Interactions in New England.” Her talk will review the history of seals in New England, examine their roles in the ecosystem and as ocean health sentinels, and discuss seal-fishery interactions.

Harbor Seal Gloucester

On Monday, November 19, from 2:30-3:50pm in Veteran’s Hall B, Ellison Campus Center, Salem State University, there will be a panel on “Wildlife in Peril.” Panelists include Andrea Zeren (Psychology) who will highlight the plight of elephants globally; Jack Clarke (Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, Mass Audubon) who will describe current threats to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act; and Mendy Garron (NOAA) who will discuss the plight of large whale species (particularly right whales). All three speakers also will discuss efforts to protect wildlife.

Snowy Egrets are just one of myriad species of birds that have been saved from the brink of extinction by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.

These events are sponsored by the Salem State University Human Dimensions of Wildlife Unit at the Bates Center for Public Affairs and the Political Science Department and are open to the public. For more information contact, Jennifer Jackman at jjackman@salemstate.edu.

I Want What You Have!

What do Great Blue Herons, North America’s largest species of herons, eat? Because they feed in a variety of both freshwater and saltwater habitats, their diet is richly varied. Great Blue Herons dine on small fish, crabs, shrimp, mice, rats, voles, frogs, salamanders, turtles, gophers, snakes, many species of small waterbirds including ducks and ducklings, and insects.

How many Great Blue Herons do you see in the photo above? I thought there was only one in the shot, until returning to my office and had a good look at the scene.

PIPING PLOVERS ON THE AGENDA AT TONIGHT’S AAC MEETING

ANIMAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

OCTOBER MEETING TODAY AT 6:30

CITY HALL, 3RD FLOOR

1. Approval of meeting minutes from 9/12/2018
2. Education/Outreach Plans
3. Piping plover awareness and education
4. Off leash beach days
5. Rodenticides
6. Dogs in Cemetery
7. Materials
8. Shirts/Sweatshirts/Hats
9. Brochures
10. Public comment
11. New Business