Protect Rare Bird’s Breeding Areas

Target: Paul Phifer, Assistant Regional Director of Ecological Services, Northeast Region, Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: Do not authorize a permit that will put Nantucket’s piping plover at risk from habitat disruption.

Nantucket’s piping plover habitats are at risk due to a 25-year permit currently being considered by the National Fish and Wildlife Service. This rare shorebird is endangered in most of its breeding ranges and threatened in all of them. In the Great Lakes region, the tiny bird has been struggling to survive the disruption of its breeding habitats by shoreline development. The only place these threatened birds have finally begun to thrive is Nantucket, where its population has experienced an encouraging increase due to conservation efforts.

Not everyone is happy about this progress, however, as the island is a popular spot for wealthy vacationers who want to spend their time at the beach. Unfortunately, the beach is also where the piping plover nests and feeds, and as a result beachgoers are often kept out of breeding areas in order to preserve this much-needed habitat.

Rather than celebrating this conservation success, beachgoers have submitted so many complaints that the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service for a permit that will allow an increase in human activity near nesting areas. Piping plover are vulnerable to habitat disruptions, so allowing more flexibility around breeding sites is a major risk. Permitting off-road vehicles near nesting sites, or simply letting humans and their pets into these areas, could cause serious repercussions.

Conservation efforts have made so much headway for the piping plover in Nantucket, and it would be wrong to undermine this progress in favor of increased beach access for vacationers. Sign the petition below to urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to reject the proposed 25-year permit and to continue protecting the valuable breeding habitats of this threatened bird.


Dear Assistant Director Phifer,

The 25-year permit that would allow greater flexibility around the breeding areas of the threatened piping plover in Nantucket must not be authorized by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The piping plover is endangered in the Great Lakes region due to habitat disruption, and despite its recent increase in population in Nantucket, the species remains vulnerable and in need of protection.

This permit would pose a major risk to the piping plover’s beachside habitats where it nests and feeds. It would allow off-road vehicles near breeding areas, and beachgoers and their pets would be a damaging disruption that could cause serious repercussions. Beaches should continue to either close or fence off nesting sites in order to preserve the environment for the piping plover during vacation seasons.

I am urging you to continue to protect the piping plover and respect the conservation efforts that have brought this species’ population back up to a healthy number in Nantucket. Please do not authorize the 25-year permit, and instead keep the plover’s habitats safe from recreational beach access.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ganesh Jayaraman

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  1. no humans near the piping plovers today.

  2. Paula Myles says:

    Thousands of Plovers migrating form New England were wiped out by a hurricane this past fall. Those remaining need every possible protection to help restore their population

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