Threatened Species Nests Along Missouri River - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Threatened Species Nests Along Missouri River

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A threatened bird species has made its way to the banks of the Missouri River.

Spots on sandbars along the Missouri River are off-limits.

"Right now, we have plovers nesting on the sandbars. Piping Plovers are a threatened species on the endangered species list. They come up here in the summer to breed. They winter down in Texas. So, they're just up here a few months. And they need to lay their eggs and hatch their chicks in time to head back south before winter comes," says Carol Aron a biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Aron says there are only about 3,000 piping plovers in the area. She says it's important to keep people and their dogs off the nesting places, because the birds are really sensitive to disturbance. And if the adults are kept off the eggs too long, they won't hatch.

"They're about the size of a little Easter egg, and they're model brown. They are almost impossible to see. So, if you're walking out here, you might step on one by accident. We're asking people to stay off the posted sandbars to let the birds do what they need to do with their nests, and also, so you don't step one by accident," says Aron.

Restricted spots are in place to protect the birds. Officials are patrolling the water to make sure the people stay off those places.

"If we do see somebody beyond the signs or removing the signs, they could be fined anywhere from $75 to up to $400," says Ralph Gabrysh a natural resource specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Killing or taking a piping plover away from it's habitat could result in three years in prison or a $100,000 fine.

Gabyrsh says restricted areas will be posted until mid-August.

According to Gabrysh the number of piping plovers decreased because of loss of habitat. He says he's seen as many as 200 nests along the Missouri River.

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