This past spring, Cape Hatteras National Seashore reached an agreement with environmental organizations and vehicle advocacy groups to close portions of the seashore to beach driving. The goal of this agreement was to protect wildlife during their breeding seasons and to reverse steep declines in nesting shorebird and waterbird populations. The closure already has resulted in dramatic improvements to beach wildlife this summer:
Piping plovers (a threatened species) increased from six breeding pairs last year to eleven this year, the most breeding pairs on the seashore since 1997. Those eleven pairs produced seven fledged chicks, almost doubling last year’s total of four.
American oystercatchers produced 15 fledgling chicks, a 40 percent increase over last year’s total.
The number of sea turtle nests dramatically improved. As of August 25, a record 111 nests had been recorded on Seashore beaches, a 30 percent increase over the average for the last 13 breeding seasons.
Black skimmers nested on the Seashore this year after failing to nest at all last year.