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Perspective: Protect The Piping Plovers

NPS Climate Change Response
Piping Plovers

Today I want to talk on behalf of those who cannot speak -- specifically, two small endangered birds named Monty and Rose.

Monty and Rose are piping plovers. By current estimates, they are only 1 of 70 breeding pairs in the Great Lakes region and the first pair to nest on Chicago’s lakeshore in some 50 years. The fact that these endangered birds have decided to set-up shop on Montrose Beach is both fortuitous and harrowing.

It is fortuitous because we have a unique opportunity to see first-hand how efforts to reverse species decline can proceed and get a foothold. It is harrowing because piping plovers, like many other shorebirds, lay their eggs out in the open on the warm sand.

For this reason, Monty and Rose’s nest is exposed to the dangers of flooding, beach volleyballs, off-leash dogs, and a planned lakefront music festival -- MAMBY. Luckily, the birds have human allies.

There is an army of volunteers coordinated by the Chicago Ornithological Society who stand watch over the area 24/7. There are police men and women whose commitment to serve and protect extend to these two very small members of the community. And there is a grassroots effort to petition the park district to think twice about issuing permits for festivals and other events that could disturb the balance.

It is uncertain whether the clutch of eggs currently being protected by Monty and Rose will successfully hatch. But given the fragile state of the Great Lakes piping plover, it is our responsibility to give them a chance.

I’m David Gunkel, and that’s my perspective.

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