Plover Nest Failed Beaches in Cape Open Again Rezzis Resume

DNREC DOVER (7/7/23) … The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today that a stretch of beach at Gordons Pond within Cape Henlopen State Park has been reopened to beachgoers and surf fishers after the failure of a piping plover nest that was discovered there in late May. The area, closed off June 26 to protect the piping plovers – a state-endangered species in Delaware and federally-threatened and Endangered Species Act-listed beach-nesting shorebird – is to reopen immediately for pedestrian and vehicular traffic, to include permitted surf fishing vehicles with weekend drive-on reservations.

The suspected cause of the piping plover nest failure was predation by red foxes which are believed to have claimed one of the parent plovers and all three chicks that hatched last month. The nest was protected against predation by an enclosure erected around it by DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists, but the adults were susceptible when they left the nest to feed, as were the chicks once they hatched and began venturing outside the nest area.

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DNREC staff from the Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Recreation removed 800 feet of fencing Friday that had cordoned off the area around the nest to public encroachment. Though the first such closure for protection of piping plovers at Gordons Pond in seven years, the species has nested there on a number of occasions since its ESA listing in 1986. The protective fencing had extended to the high water mark on a portion of Cape Henlopen’s ocean beach while symbolic fencing – cautionary signage on fence posts tied off by twine – also was removed from the area as it reopened Friday to beachgoers and anglers.

Another stretch of beach at Cape Henlopen, The Point, is currently closed through Sept. 1 (Oct. 1 for The Point’s bayside beach), as it has been annually since 1993 for the benefit of threatened and endangered beach-nesting and migratory shorebird species to include red knots, piping plovers, American oystercatchers and least terns. The DNREC Divisions of Parks and Recreation, Fish and Wildlife, and Watershed Stewardship have worked together since 1990 on a management plan to help grow shorebird populations in Delaware – with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversight for protective measures on the shorebirds’ behalf.

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