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July 27, 1999

For more information contact:
Dave Jenkins at 609-292-9400

According to New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife biologists, six pairs of piping plovers that made North Brigantine Natural Area in Ocean County their home this summer have fledged a total of 19 chicks.

"The total averages slightly more than three chicks per nesting pair and is the highest productivity rate of plovers on any beach in the state this year," said Division Director Bob McDowell.

As a result, the state Division of Parks and Forestry, responsible for administering the natural area, has re-opened the beach to off-road vehicles. Vehicle access to a portion of the beach had been temporarily restricted to help protect the vulnerable chicks since the first nests hatched prior to the Memorial Day weekend.

Division endangered species biologists monitoring the plovers believe the tremendous nesting success was due to several factors, including predator control, excellent habitat, lack of off-road vehicle traffic and good tidal conditions. As a result, all six nests hatched with no young lost.

The biologists used special predator exclosures reinforced with electrified fence to prevent foxes and other predators from reaching the nests. Once hatched, the chicks fed unhindered with access to tidal pools and mudflats along the back bay, as well as the oceanfront surf line. The lack of vehicles reduced the number of people and more importantly, dogs on the beach, which are major threats to unprotected chicks. In addition, despite some fairly high tides during the nesting season, no nests were lost to flooding.