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The Great Piping Plover Controversy
Which side are you on?

The piping plover, a threatened species, is a bird that nests and feeds on the beach. In 2005, the beach near Cape Point was closed by the National Park Service so several piping plover chicks could nest, greatly upsetting some fishermen and folks who like to go four-wheeling. The Point, you see, is one of the most popular surf-fishing spots on the East coast.

Some restaurants kiddingly advertised specials featuring the little birds. Diamond Shoals in Buxton offered Piping Plover Pot Pie and Fried Piping Plover. An Avon establishment offered Piping Plover Subs. Some local eateries had signs in their windows saying "NPS employees not welcome here." There were bumper stickers saying "Piping Plover Tastes Like Chicken."

One group organized a Cape Point "viewing" in July 2005. Their flyer said "We are all saddened by our sudden loss. We feel it proper to pay our respects to what was once known as a gathering place for people from all areas of the country. It is now merely a place to look at … to view from a distance." The vehicle procession entered the beach at Ramp 44 and exited via Ramp 43. Participants were encouraged to wear black.

Pat Moore of Buxton, an avid birder, helped monitor the piping plover nesting area. She explained that the plovers nest and feed on the beach. Human encroachment, regardless of the form, into the birds' foraging and resting areas disturb and deprive the birds of the necessary habitat for their survival. Due to the closing of a portion of the Point, for the first time in several seasons piping plover chicks lived to fledge (became capable of flying). After this occurred, the beach was reopened to off-road vehicles.

Wonder what 2006 will bring?

If you want to learn more, just type "piping plover Hatteras" into Google or another search engine.

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