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April 27, 2004

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994

Pets Prohibited on Beaches in New Jersey Natural Areas to Protect Endangered Shore Birds

(04/38) TRENTON- Recognizing the importance of protecting the threatened piping plover, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the city of Brigantine have announced the prohibition of pets on the beach at the North Brigantine Natural Area in Atlantic County. The prohibition, which will be followed annually, began April 1 and continues through September 15. The natural area is located on the north end of Brigantine.

"I'm confident that visitors and residents will understand the need for this order to protect our threatened shore birds," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "As stewards of our natural resources, it is our responsibility to make sure that these extremely rare birds have a chance at survival."

Pets both leashed and unleashed pose a significant threat to adult and juvenile piping plovers and disrupt their nesting activity. Pets frighten adult birds, which causes the adults and chicks to become separated. Lone chicks are vulnerable to predation.

A total of 17 pairs of piping plovers nested at the North Brigantine Natural Area in 2003, the second largest population found in New Jersey, representing 12 percent of the record total of 144 pairs that nested in the state last year.

Coastal activities of people often conflict with what the piping plover needs to successfully reproduce while here in New Jersey. Due to its precarious existence on New Jersey's beaches, the piping plover remains one of the state's most endangered species.

Although weather-related and tidal flooding resulted in poor reproductive success in 2003, in recent years the natural area has been one of the most important sites in New Jersey and helped drive a steady increase in the statewide population of piping plovers over the past five years.

For the first time, signs prohibiting pets will be posted on the beach in Brigantine, as well as signage to clearly delineate the boundaries of the restricted area of the North Brigantine site.

Leashed pets are permitted on the city-owned portion of Brigantine Beach north of 15th Street North year round.

Since the late 1940's, coastal development and increased recreational use of beaches have caused the plover population to decline. In 1984, the piping plover was listed as an endangered species in New Jersey. In 1986, the Atlantic Coast piping plover population was listed as Threatened in the United States. Since its date of listing the Atlantic Coast piping plover population has increased from 790 pairs in 1986 to 1,386 pairs in 1999.

The on-going pet ban continues at the Strathmere Natural Area, Cape May Point State Park and Corson's Inlet State Park in Cape May County, and at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park in Ocean County.

The purpose of the state's Natural Areas System is to protect and preserve ecologically significant lands and the resources found on them, including endangered and threatened wildlife and rare vegetative communities.

The piping plover was the July species of the month in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the New Jersey Endangered Species Conservation Act and the beginning of the DEP's Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

The illegal taking of piping plovers by killing chicks or impeding access by chicks to intertidal feeding areas is a violation of state regulations and the federal Endangered Species Act.

For more information about the program, go to





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