The piping plover, an endangered species of shorebird in New Jersey, is beginning to make a comeback. The Conserve Wildlife Foundation has released a breeding report that shows there are currently 108 pairs of piping plovers along the Jersey shore — a 17 percent increase over 2014.
The birds are still below both their long-time average of 118 pairs and their peak, but the foundation notes that the rebound is good news. Nevertheless, according to the foundation’s executive director David Wheeler, the birds face a daunting challenge in New Jersey due to heavy development along the coast.
Northern Monmouth County accounts for the largest number of pairs (55), primarily located within the Sandy Hook area of Gateway National Recreation preserve. The other region with a high concentration of these birds is the North Brigantine Natural Area and the Holgate and Little Beach units of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
Cape May County, once a major spot for piping plovers, continues to lose population. It accounted for just eight pairs in 2015, compared with 42 pairs in 2004.