Prominent signage for the species-at-risk was removed and abused for beach games at Barachois Beach – home to one of only five successful hatching sites on the Island
On Saturday July 17, provincial conservation officers and federal wildlife officers received calls from several concerned citizens reporting possible species-at-risk violations witnessed on Barachois Beach. Upon arrival, officers observed a group of people camping inside an area closed to protect the endangered Piping Plover and nesting Common Terns. A tent was erected upon a dune with a bonfire going. In addition, signs demarking the nesting area were removed and setup as goalposts for a ball game.
Barachois Beach is a pivotal site for Piping Plover on PEI. Over the last 15 years, it has supported 15% of all nest attempts on provincial beaches. While the beach is over 148 acres in size, the areas closed for nesting birds this year is less than 10 acres. With just a fraction of the beach restricted, INT relies on members of the community to pay attention to signage, take heed of restrictions and avoid actions that could compromise the survival of this endangered species.
“To say that we were disappointed and saddened by the choices that these individuals made is a vast understatement. We work to conserve species at risk on PEI and to ensure that we have a diversity of wildlife and wild spaces to enjoy. We are aided in this work by hundreds of volunteers and supporters. We know through over 40 years of experience, that protecting the animals and plants that we share this province with is vitally important to islanders and visitors alike.”– Shannon Mader, Species at Risk Manager, Island Nature Trust
Over the years, appeals to the public in helping the recovery of the Piping Plover population have been met with a positive collective effort from individuals, communities, conservation groups, industry and governments. Every year, signs are erected around Piping Plover nests. Trust volunteers and ‘Guardians’ join staff to update signage across PEI beaches that are known to host nesting Piping Plover.
Normally, INT staff and volunteers engage in outreach and education and are met with receptive citizens, eager to learn more about the wildlife of PEI. It is not common to receive reports of individuals flagrantly disregarding signage and setting up activity areas within restricted nesting areas. This type of violation has the potential to undo decades of conservation work towards the recovery of the species and the encompassing beach dune ecosystem – a natural protective barrier to the ongoing effects of erosion and climate change.
“I find this difficult to accept. It is an ongoing problem that those carrying out infringements always claim to have not seen the signs at the beach entrance even though they are prominent and impossible to miss. Most people on the beach are great but the minority are disheartening. Last year we had no successful hatching so this year’s chicks should be a cause for celebration but instead we have this.”– Mike Salter, volunteer for Island Nature Trust
At the time of this incident, this beach was home to two Piping Plover families – one with five-day old chicks and another with one day old chicks. The Piping Plover was listed under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2003. Designated as endangered, the species is at great risk of disappearing from our Island beaches. Now more than ever, the Piping Plover requires ongoing collaboration from our Island community to ensure their survival.
The incident on Saturday is under investigation by Provincial Conservation Officers.
“Provincial Conservation Officers at Department of Justice and Public Safety are concerned for the ongoing noncompliance at Barachois Beach. Penalties under the Species at Risk Act are severe and can carry fines up to $50,000 for a person and $1,000,000 for a corporation.”– Wade MacKinnon, Manager of Investigation and Enforcement, Justice and Public Safety
To report illegal activity on Island beaches please call 902-368-4884.
Violations can be reported via the INT website https://islandnaturetrust.ca/violations/
Piping Plover at Barachois Beach https://youtu.be/XWCmYg-wVOA
Island Nature Trust is a membership-based, non-government, Canadian charity dedicated to land conservation in Prince Edward Island since 1979. We envision a future where P.E.I. has a network of protected, robust natural areas championed by knowledgeable, engaged Islanders.
We envision a network of protected natural areas across PEI sustained by the love and generosity of Islanders today for the enjoyment of Islanders and wildlife tomorrow.
902-892-7513 or 902-566-9150