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
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
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
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 www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensphome.htm