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Wildlife Officials Plan To Limit Beach Access To Welcome Endangered Birds

The Piping Plover Hasn't Nested In The Area For Decades

USFWSmidwest (CC-BY)

Road access to a beach on Wisconsin Point in Superior will be closed to the public this spring to encourage endangered shorebirds to nest.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Ted Koehler said piping plovers haven’t nested there for nearly 35 years.

“The last recorded nesting was in the mid-1980s,” Koehler said. “We’re trying to restore the habitat so piping plovers will nest there once again.”

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To improve the odds, Douglas County and the city of Superior have agreed to close the road leading to Wisconsin Point’s Shafer Beach for two months. The St. Louis River Alliance has been working on habitat restoration there with state and federal agencies. Project Manager Kris Eilers said it’s been a tough go of it.

“People don’t know that there is a critically endangered bird that is almost extinct in the Great Lakes population, so they’re letting their dogs loose on the beach and that is generally what is making the bird not stay,” Eilers said.

Piping plover have been seen, but none have stayed to nest. There are currently 70 nesting pairs across the Great Lakes.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported that Shafer Beach would be closed for two months. The beach will remain open to the public but vehicle access will be blocked. The story has been updated.