Thursday, April 15, 2010

Are plover protections protecting plovers?

Are plover protections protecting the plovers? Once you take a look at the data, it becomes obvious that they are not. There are 19 birds left in Humboldt county. The steady decline since intensive monitoring began 10 years ago might have more to do with how we are trying to help them than we may be comfortable in admitting.

Beach grass eradication seems to have no consistent benefit to plover populations, which have been concerns cited by HSU professor Mark Colwell as well as noted in the Fish and Wildlife Service's plover recovery plan. It is hard to say whether benefits to the plover will be a legitimate aspect of restoration grant requests any more. There is already quite a lot of what is considered ideal habitat, yet plovers don't seem to take advantage of it. Initially, the restored areas have too little cover for protection, in my observations, and in ensuing years perhaps too much dense vegetation for nesting. This is also a stated concern in the recovery plan.