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Piping plover season begins

Piping plover (Photo: St. Louis River Alliance)

The St. Louis River Alliance requests the public’s help in protecting a critically endangered shorebird, the piping plover, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 at the Park Point pavilion near the Beach House, 5000 Minnesota Ave.

The community is welcome to kick off the Piping Plover season by learning about the program, spend time on the beach with birding scopes and binoculars and learn about volunteer opportunities. Beverages and snacks will be served.

These extremely rare birds are small, sandy-colored cousins of the killdeer, no bigger than a robin. Every year they journey from the southern part of the Atlantic coast to the sandy shoreline along the Great Lakes. Here they build nests and raise their chicks. Because they fly so far to nest on our shores, protecting the habitat that brings them here is essential.

Prime nesting territory is wide sandy beaches with no trees nearby. Loose dogs and human activity are the biggest deterrent to successful nests. Those who need to pass through critical habitat (marked by signage) are encouraged to walk on the trail on top of the dune or along the wet sand, not on the wide beach. The public can help by avoiding the beach area near the Airport, observing posted signs, leashing their dogs and cleaning up the beaches. The alliance also provides training for volunteer opportunities like piping plover monitoring positions, as well as a program for dog owners to help educate other owners about keeping pets leashed.

Due to the critical time limits of nesting season (now until mid-June), there will be increased enforcement of Duluth's dog leash laws in this area. Dogs must be on a 6-foot or shorter leash at all times, according to city ordinance. Alliance staff and volunteers will be present in the beach area throughout this nesting season to provide more information for beachgoers and to observe the birds.

The alliance is working with state and federal agencies to attract nesting piping plovers to Minnesota and Wisconsin point beaches. Please join us us for Saturday's event and in our efforts to protect their habitat and educate others about this rare shorebird.

For more information contact Alyssa Hoppe, program manager at (218) 733-9520 or Alyssa@stlouisriver.org.

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