Coastal Massachusetts residents want their beaches back, even if it means picking a fight with the very, tiny piping plover.
Aided by environmentalists and $150,000 in yearly federal funding, the sandy, little shorebirds have staged a comeback in Massachusetts from a low of 139 breeding pairs in 1986 to 664 in 2014, according to The Boston Globe.
In fact, the plovers’ revival has been so successful that their presence at popular Revere Beach has angered locals, who feel the avocado-sized birds are hogging all the sand. Sixteen pairs of plovers have plucked off 15 percent of the sand at high tide, leaving the rest for the up to 10,000 daily human visitors at America’s first public beach.
And there is more than enough disdain to go around. From the Globe:
In recent weeks, as the sand-colored birds have arrived to roost on their eggs, the people detailed to protect them say they have been taunted, cursed at, and dismissed as flunkies of a state more concerned about birds than people. The bathers want their sandy shores back.
“A man told me the other day that he has spent his life trying to fight what we do,’’ said Lyra Brennan, a field technician for Mass Audubon, who has had to call on state park rangers for help as she patrols the beach with binoculars and a notebook.
To be fair, humans started this fight by trying to turn all the plovers into feather hats. So maybe we owe them some space on the shore. Perhaps the plovers and Revere beachgoers will just have to brawl this one out.
Piping plovers in New England