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Why is Wrightsville Beach’s north end off-limits even when piping plovers aren’t nesting there?

Kevin Maurer
StarNews

Chuck Carmack photographs skimmers just outside the bounds of a bird nesting area at Wrightsville Beach on June 15, 2012. StarNews photo by Mike Spencer.

Q. The Outer Banks has protected nesting areas for the piping plovers, just like we do at Shell Island on Wrightsville Beach. But the area is only protected during the nesting season and then open for public use. Why is the north end of Wrightsville Beach closed year-round when the birds only nest at certain times of the year?

A. New Hanover County Engineer Jim Iannucci said Waterbird Management Area at the north end of Wrightsville Beach was a condition of the Mason Inlet relocation permit. The area was developed with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Audubon Society, and approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The area was created to protect all types of waterbirds, including shorebirds that migrate through a particular area (e.g. plovers, sanderlings, oyster catchers) and colonial waterbirds (e.g. terns and skimmers),” Iannucci said. “New Hanover County was required to protect nesting birds and their habitat, monitor the nesting of all waterbirds and shorebirds, document the number of nests for each species, assess productivity of nesting species, document the species and number of non-breeding birds using the project area, and implement educational programs for the public. The plan is carried out through a contract with the Audubon Society.”

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User-contributed question by:
Susan Wolfson

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