Detroit Zoo Power On To Save Endangered Piping Plovers

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: July 6, 2020 11:56 pm

Photo Credit: Detroit Zoo

Conservationists at Detroit Zoo in the United States of America have not allowed Covid-19 to get in the way of their conservation efforts for the highly threatened Great Lakes piping plover.

In a typical year staff from the Detroit Zoological Society would lead a team working at  University of Michigan’s Biological Station in Pellston, Michigan to incubate abandoned eggs from the Great Lakes piping plovers.

At present the team have successfully raised 11 chicks and more eggs are currently incubating. The chicks will spend a few weeks at the zoo before moving back to the Biological Station where a small team works to ensure they are acclimated to the wild. Once they are ready at around a month old, staff will return them to the wild where they can join the few remaining wild Great Lakes piping plovers.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the DZS team could not work at the Pellston facility,” said Bonnie Van Dam, associate curator of birds for the Detroit Zoological Society. “We couldn’t let the pandemic prevent the rescue and rearing of these endangered birds. So, at the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), abandoned eggs are brought to the Detroit Zoo for incubation.”

Video Credit: Detroit Zoo

During the 1980s a team at University of Minnesota with support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the USFWS and others started a study of the Great Lakes Piping plover.

By 1986 they had found just 17 nesting pairs of plovers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service established a recovery program.

From the beginning of the program until 2002 the number of breeding pairs would fluctuate between a low of 12 and a high of 51. A major contributor to their decline was human disturbance leading to nests being abandoned.

As such it was determined that by artificially rearing these abandoned eggs the population could be largely increased. Since the establishment of this program in 2001 over 260 Great Lakes piping plovers have been raised. This has lead to 65 nests currently existing in the wild.

The Detroit Zoological Society has been recognized as a leader in the recovery of the Great Lakes Piping Plover.

Learn more about the Detroit Zoo on their website – Detroit Zoo

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