The Wasaga Beach Piping Plover Program is a compelling story of a small shore bird that is struggling to survive. Prior to 2005 Piping Plovers had not successfully nested on the Canadian Great Lakes for over 30 years, and had not had breeding success at Wasaga Beach in over 70 years. The 2013 season was the sixth consecutive year that Piping Plovers nested at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, resulting in the successful fledging of five chicks.
Within the last month Provincial Park staff and volunteers that have contributed to the Piping Plover program won two significant awards.
On March 5th the WBPP Piping Plover Program received the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) Recognition Award for 2013. The ECO is the province’s independent environmental watchdog and each year acknowledges staff and programs that best meets the goals of the Environmental Bill of Rights. Ministry of Natural Resources Assistant Deputy Minister Carrie Hayward said “It is a great story of collaboration between some very fine, smart and dedicated people – our ministry staff, partners, volunteers and communities that have rallied together to give this bird species a fighting chance at survival. I would like to extend my appreciation to the Friends of Nancy Island and Wasaga Beach Park and our other volunteers. Your efforts have contributed significantly to the success of our program and your gift of time has been priceless.”
On March 18th Ontario Parks presented its Outstanding Achievement Award to the Piping Plover Protection Team. This award is presented to an individual or group, who has demonstrated accomplishments over and above the expectations of their managers, peers and / or customers and partners.The team is made up of Wasaga Beach Provincial Park staff, Friends of Nancy Island and Wasaga Beach Park, and the Piping Plover Guardians.
The Piping Plover Guardians are a group of between 50-80 dedicated volunteers that over the course of 12-14 weeks, donated over 2,000 hours as they monitor this endangered shorebird. The Guardians provide the public with accurate information about the importance of protecting endangered species and the Piping Plover’s significant role in the greater ecosystem.
The Friends of Nancy Island have also donated abundant volunteer hours to the program as they continue to work behind the scenes as volunteers, handling the Plover Volunteer Coordinator’s payroll, grant applications, and numerous financial contributions to the program.
The Great Lakes Piping Plover population has been slowly increasing each year from 17 breeding pairs in 1986 to 66 pairs in 2013. However, the population is still at risk of extinction. Despite the operational challenges of managing a high-use recreational beach, the staff at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, the Piping Plover Guardians and the Friends of Nancy Island remains committed to the protection of the Piping Plover and its habitat. The program has adopted the motto, “it takes a village to raise a plover” due to the ongoing support from the MNR District Office, Canadian Wildlife Services, Canadian Wildlife Enforcement, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Town of Wasaga Beach, the OPP, and local businesses.
Piping Plover Guardian Program
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park is looking for community members to volunteer as Piping Plover Guardians. This is a unique opportunity to help monitor and protect one of North America’s most endangered bird species. Volunteers are provided with on-site training, and spend their time on the beach monitoring nest habitat, breeding pairs and hatchlings, as well as educating the public about these rare birds and the efforts underway to protect them. For more information please contact the Piping Plover Volunteer Coordinator at (705) 429-2516 or email@example.com