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Great Lakes Piping Plovers

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Since 1986 when the Great Lakes Piping Plover (GLPIPL) population was listed as federally endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), a team of agencies, organizations and individuals have worked together to bring them back from the brink of extirpation. Historically, approximately 500 - 800 Piping Plover pairs nested throughout the Great Lakes but by 1990 had declined to about a dozen pairs, all in Northern Michigan. By 2000, the breeding population increased to 30 nesting pairs. In 2015 and 2016, there were 75 nests - a record high since Piping Plovers were listed under the ESA, though the population has dropped slightly in 2019 - 2022 due mostly to high water and storm events. 2023 brought a new record of 80 nesting pairs!

Several actions on the part of the Great lakes Piping Plover Conservation Team have likely contributed to the increase in Piping Plover breeding success:

  • Frequent nest monitoring.

  • Protecting nests with exclosures.

  • Reports from winter territory observers

  • Education of beach users.

  • Habitat protection.

  • Salvage captive-rearing.

  • Predator control.

  • Banding and research.

Other factors are beyond our control:

  • Great Lakes water levels.

  • Storms.

  • Spills of oil or other toxins.

  • Wildlife diseases.

  • Climate change. 

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Although the recovery effort is organized and coordinated by US Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies, it really comes down to many very dedicated individuals who care deeply about Piping Plovers and their Great Lakes and coastal homes.  Photos and information about some of the people that have worked towards Piping Plover protection are on the "Plover Crew Photos" tab. 

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