The Western snowy plovers were on the Central Coast beaches, nesting and rearing young at least 100 years before dune buggies or motorcycles were invented. A recent New Times article describes the plovers leaving their enclosure and State Parks staff trying to shoo them back ("Snowy plovers are nesting in Oceano Dunes riding areas amid COVID-19 closures, leading to concerns about reopening," June 11). Another way to look at it is that the birds' nesting territory was taken away by humans and vehicles, and they were pushed into a small fraction of their nesting area.
Trying to make them stay in an ever more crowded fenced enclosure is futile when their instincts are to spread out. Plovers' nests are usually 100 feet apart or more. That way, there is enough space for foraging and wandering without running into another adult male and his brood. Crowding means less food, more stress, and aggression from other birds. They have been in the same 300 acres for more than 15 years.
The harassment of the plovers demonstrates that California State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle Division ought not be in charge of the Western Snowy Plover Recovery Plan. An independent third party that would actually protect the birds is needed. Perhaps if the state and federal fish and wildlife agencies wake up and leap into action, better management of the threatened and endangered species might occur. It is long overdue.