Press Release | May 1, 2009

Groups Intervene to Ensure Piping Plover Survival

The Southern Environmental Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife, and the National Audubon Society today stepped in to defend the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s decision to designate portions of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge as critical habitat for wintering piping plovers. The piping plover is a federally-listed threatened species that depends on these areas for nesting, migration, and wintering habitat. The Fish & Wildlife Service faces a lawsuit by a consortium of off-road vehicle enthusiast groups and two North Carolina counties seeking to dismiss the designations.
Piping plovers are small birds with orange legs that run in short starts and stops along the beach. When still, the birds blend into the pale background of open, sandy habitat. The beaches of North Carolina are important to piping plovers at all stages of their life cycle. The state is the northern edge of the piping plover’s wintering range, the southern edge of its breeding range and a very important stopover area during its spring and fall migration.
Piping plovers are imperiled by habitat loss and human disturbance, including the impacts of off-road vehicle use. Critical habitat designation is an important tool for the conservation and recovery of endangered and threatened species. It helps educate the public of the presence of important habitat for imperiled species and helps focus federal, state, and private conservation and management efforts in designated areas. It also requires that the National Park Service consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding federal actions to ensure that critical habitat is not adversely modified or destroyed. 


About Southern Environmental Law Center
The Southern Environmental Law Center is the only regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of 40 legal experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use.
About Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members, supporters and subscribers, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come.
About National Audubon Society
The National Audubon Society has more than one million members and supporters, offices in 23 states, and a presence in all 50 states through more than 450 certified chapters, nature centers, sanctuaries, and education and science programs. Locally, Audubon maintains a North Carolina state office which works on behalf of Audubon’s more than 10,000 members and supporters in the state. Audubon’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. It carries out that mission nationally through a variety of activities including education, habitat conservation and public policy advocacy.

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