Ron Meador: Piping Plover Recovery?

Ron Meador, reporting for MinnPost:



Piping plovers have never been terribly numerous; for a baseline natural population in the Great Lakes region, including Minnesota, Cuthbert offered the estimate of 200 to 300 breeding pairs at the turn of the last century. That would be after a certain toll taken by market hunters, who slaughtered the birds for their plumage – prized for ladies’ hats – and also, amazingly, for their meat...

The Great Lakes plovers, which numbered but 54 pairs in 2012 and perhaps 70 pairs today, can be distinguished just barely from the Plains species by genetic material in blood samples, which makes it a subspecies for some scientific purposes but not, as it happens, for separate treatment under the Endangered Species Act, which has protected all piping plovers since 1986...

As of last summer, Cuthbert said, that population stood at around 70 breeding pairs, and there’s strong evidence that there may well be more in nesting sites that haven’t yet been found. If the population reaches 100 pairs in Michigan and 50 elsewhere in the region, and holds there for five years, the piping plover stands to be classified as recovered.