Incidents targeting protected shorebirds prompt authorities to offer $5,000 rewards
A recent string of incidents on Long Island and Queens targeting protected shorebirds, their nests and eggs has prompted the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to offer $5,000 rewards for information leading to the person or persons responsible, officials said Monday.
Since May, authorities have chronicled incidents on Long Island at Robert Moses State Park, Jones Beach and a protected beachfront area in the town of Southampton, just east of the park. of Shinnecock East County, officials said.
The Robert Moses incident involved the destruction of a piping plover nest, as well as the destruction of the surrounding predator exclosure, and officials believe it happened between May 23 and 24. The Jones Beach incident happened between June 11 and 14 and involved the destruction of two piping plover nests and predator enclosures, while the incident in the town of Southampton took place on June 26 and involved unleashed dogs and the taking of eggs from a piping plover nest in a protected breeding area, officials said.
The Queens incidents all took place in May and June. The latest, for which a separate $5,000 reward is offered, involves what federal authorities call the “intentional destruction” of at least one American oystercatcher egg. This happened on the border of the Breezy Point Cooperative and the Breezy Point Unit of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area at Rockaway Point.
A case that occurred in Arverne in the Rockaways between May 13 and May 15 involved at least 57 American oystercatcher eggs and four piping plover eggs collected from nests located between Beach 38th and Beach 57th streets under the jurisdiction. of the New York City Department of Parks. and recreation, officials said.
U.S. oystercatchers are protected under federal Migratory Bird Treaty law, and the maximum penalties for destroying or taking each egg include up to six months in jail and a $15,000 fine, authorities said. The piping plover is protected as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act – and maximum penalties include a fine of up to $25,000 and six months in jail for each egg caught or damage to an individual bird.
Anyone with information about any of these incidents is asked to call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Kathryn McCabe at 516-825-3950 or contact a hotline at 1-844-FWS-TIPS.
Officials said with “ever-increasing demands” on local beaches, there are fewer places for shorebirds to raise families, feed, rest and nest.
As a result, the Wildlife Service and National Park Service are working with local, county, and state partners to establish these protected areas on public and private lands.
Five ways to make the beach “more bird friendly” include:
- Follow all posted rules;
- Give birds space, especially when trying to eat or rest;
- Keep dogs on a leash, to prevent the birds from being frightened;
- Don’t leave litter on the beach, which can attract predators that feed on birds, chicks and eggs;
- Do not feed shorebirds directly.
As the officials said: “The gulls in particular are drawn to your lunch. Our food is not part of their natural diet and more gulls may further disturb some of the endangered species we are trying to protect.”