Threatened and Endangered Species - Status Reports
Date Published: February 2016
Number of Pages: 24
Author(s): Derek W. Stinson
The Pacific coast population of Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus) breeds from Midway Beach, Washington, south to Bahia Magdalena, Baja California, Mexico, and winters mainly in coastal areas from southern Washington to Central America. The Snowy Plover is currently state listed as endangered in Washington and a state recovery plan was completed in 1995 (Richardson 1995). The Pacific coast population of the Snowy Plover was listed as threatened by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1993, and a federal recovery plan was completed in 2007 (USFWS 2007).
Snowy Plovers currently nest at 3 sites in Washington, and the 2015 population was estimated at 77 adults. Factors affecting Snowy Plovers in Washington include degradation of habitat by introduced beach grasses, human disturbance during the nesting period, and low productivity due to predation on eggs and chicks. In 2013, a new predator management strategy that includes direct hazing and removal of crows and ravens, the main nest predators, was initiated on Washington nesting beaches and may be contributing to improved nesting and fledging success in recent years. A population viability analysis suggested that the West Coast population would not reach the recovery objective of 3,000 individuals identified in the federal recovery plan, without additional habitat restoration (Hudgens et al. 2014). As a result of this need for additional Snowy Plover habitat, control of beachgrass and management to reduce human disturbance are ongoing.
According to the Washington State Recovery Plan for the Snowy Plover, the species will be considered for down listing to threatened when the state supports a 4-year average of at least 25 breeding pairs that fledge an average of at least one young per adult male per year at two or more nesting areas with “secure” habitat. In 2015, the 4-year average attained 26 breeding pairs at the two main sites for the first time in many years, and they averaged >1.0 fledgling/male in 2011, 2014, and 2015. In 2015, an estimated 69– 77 chicks fledged, the highest number since formal surveys began in 2007.
Although the Snowy Plover population in the region appears to be increasing as a result of management actions in Washington and Oregon, the number in Washington is still very small. It is recommended that the Snowy Plover remain listed as an endangered species in Washington at this time.
Stinson, D. W. 2016. Periodic status review for the Snowy Plover in Washington. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, Washington. 16 + iii pp.
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