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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 3/27/00
00/21
CONTACT: Sharon A. Southard or Amy Collings
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994

DOGS PROHIBITED ON BEACHES AT CAPE MAY POINT STATE PARK TO PROTECT ENDANGERED SHORE BIRDS

Special Note Regarding Service Dogs

In an effort to protect vulnerable chicks of the federally-threatened piping plovers and least terns, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will prohibit the presence of dogs on beaches at Cape May Point State Park, Lower Township from April 15 through September 15 annually.

During the same time period, The Nature Conservancy also will restrict dog access to its Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge. Its beach is contiguous to Cape May Point State Park. The Nature Conservancy determined that the presence of dogs has contributed to the steady decline in the area's bird breeding success. In 1999, out of the 14 piping plover chicks that hatched, only a single chick reached the fledgling stage.

"We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of visitors and residents in order to protect these endangered species," said DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn. "We must work together to ensure the continued survival of these increasingly rare birds."

Both the piping plover and least tern are listed as state and federal endangered species. The illegal taking of piping plovers or least terns by killing chicks or impeding access by chicks to intertidal feeding areas is a violation of state regulations and the federal Endangered Species Act.

As a result of field observation and citizen reports, the Nature Conservancy determined that the primary cause of chick mortality at the refuge and park in 1999 appeared to be from dogs or the combined interaction of dogs and natural predators. Dogs enter refuge areas and frighten adult birds, which causes the adults and chicks to become separated. Lone chicks then become vulnerable to predation.

Previous measures of erecting fencing, placing predator exclosures over nests, restricting sunbathing and picnicking in nesting areas and educating beach visitors have not adequately protected chicks once they begin to forage in the intertidal section of the beach.

Signs prohibiting dogs will be posted on the beach at both Cape May Point State Park and the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge. Interpretive displays will be erected to help educate visitors about the vulnerability of the chicks and measures being taken to protect them.

For more information contact Dean Cramer, superintendent of Cape May Point State Park, at 609-884-2159 or Christine Bosco, The Nature Conservancy at 609-861-0600.

 

Clarification the Nature Conservancy's relationship to the Cape May Point State Park:

The Nature Conservancy does not own or manage Cape May Point State Park. The New Jersey Division of Parks & Forestry runs the State Park. The Nature Conservancy has its own property, the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (formerly called "The Meadows") on Sunset Blvd.

Special Note Regarding Service Dogs

Service dogs for accessibility, such as guide dogs for the blind, are permitted at both the Cape May Point State Park and the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge.

The Nature Conservancy highly recommends people seeking to visit the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge with service dogs to give Jay Laubengeyer, their office director, a call at 609-861-0600 before coming to the bird refuge. The Nature Conservancy can then arrange for access without disturbance to the birds.

 

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