The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, will temporarily close most of Jessup’s Neck peninsula on the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Noyac to protect nesting shorebirds, the agency announced Wednesday morning. In addition, the beach area above the mean high tide line at the Amagansett refuge in East Hampton Town will also be closed. Partial beach closures have been an annual occurrence at the Morton and Amagansett refuges for several years and will last once again this year from April 1 to August 31. Public access to the Morton Wild Birds Nature Trail and a portion of the beach will still be permitted. The closed areas will be clearly marked with signs, fencing and rope.
Nesting shorebirds at Morton and Amagansett National Wildlife Refuges include the federally threatened piping plover and the state threatened least tern. Last season, Morton provided habitat for three pairs of piping plovers, 63 pairs of least terns and one pair of American oystercatchers. One pair of piping plovers and 26 pairs of least terns nested at the Amagansett refuge in 2013. Nesting success can be credited, primarily to the partial beach closures, which protect the birds from various disturbances.
The public can join the efforts to protect Long Island’s natural heritage by respecting closed areas, keeping the refuge beaches and trails clean and avoiding activities that may disturb wildlife.
The principal threats to endangered and threatened birds like the piping plover include human disturbance, predators and loss of habitat. The actions taken by the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex provide undisturbed nesting, foraging and resting habitats for these species. Compliance by the public in past years has resulted in increased nesting success for plovers, terns and other breeding migratory birds such as osprey.