While some communities along the Great Lakes shorelines resent the ‘at risk’ Piping Plovers for their nestings due to their protected status, Saugeen Shores has been commended for its stance on protecting the little birds.
The birds are considered an endangered species and, under both Provincial and Federal legislation, they and their habitat are protected. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the nests are to be protected for a surrounding distance of one kilometre, which means no beach raking or disturbance of the nesting area until the fledglings have left.
In 2014, a nesting pair of Plovers decided to make their home on the main beach in Port Elgin in the shelter of the breakwater and walkway. The Town of Saugeen Shores immediately took steps to protect the nesting pair by setting up a wire cage over them and their nest to protect them against predators. In addition, the Town cordoned off the entire section of the beach where the pair and any of their hatchlings would be foraging for food. So successful was the effort that not only did all four fledglings flourish and survive but the area with its new family became a major tourist attraction. Tourists heard about the event and traveled from across North America and beyond to take in the event along with wildlife magazines and news sources.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) recently sent a letter to the Town of Saugeen Shores to say that it wanted to continued to work with the Town on continuing to improve the eco-health system.