EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 20, 2012

Battle over the birds

Fence going up to ensure their safety


“That co-operation has eroded over the past couple of years,” Kanter said. “This summer there was a full blown verbal attack on a (plover) monitor by a beach front property owner.”

Kanter said the yelling incident was triggered because the monitor roped off a nest site that was close to the property owner’s private walkway over the dune. Although such walkways aren’t allowed by town ordinance, they’ve been tolerated for decades at the beach by town officials, he added, even though the town has plenty of public access points across its dunes.

More trouble arose this summer, Kanter said, for people continued to bother the nest by not honoring the symbolic fencing. Continued human traffic too close to the nest over the private walkway caused the plover parents to leave the nest, he said.

Susi von Oettingen, endangered species biologist for the New England field office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services, said the verbal abuse of the monitor was what she considered “horrible.” But von Oettingen insists that doesn’t represent the true relationship wildlife agencies have with the entire Seabrook community.

“Seabrook’s public works department, the police department and all other town officials are very, very supportive,” von Oettingen said. “It’s not the town administration or the community in general. It’s some of the beach front land owners, and the people that they rent to, who have basically disrespected the symbolic fencing and the plover protection areas.”

And so, she said, when the harbor dredging was proposed and included a request from town officials to have some of the dredged sand distributed on the beach, a solution to the plover problem seemed at hand. If Seabrook wanted the said, she said, after close consultation with state Fish and Game officials, she insisted the sand be placed in a way that would help plovers.

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