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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Piping Plovers and Least Terns of
the Great Plains and Nearby

A draft protocol for assessing piping plover reproductive success
on Great Plains alkali lakes

Legal Concerns


In Canada and the U.S., migratory birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Reproductive success data cannot be collected from piping plovers without specific authorization; exceptions are records of nests or chicks incidental to other censuses.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife service (FWS) requires that persons involved in piping plover census or research activities apply for a Section 10 subpermit through the FWS Ecological Services field office in the state of the proposed work. Subpermits are issued with stipulations to avoid harm or harassment of plovers, e.g., by restricting time spent at nest sites, numbers of visits to nests, handling of eggs or chicks, banding, or nest marking. Annual reporting is mandatory. States may also require permits.

In Canada, federal scientific permits are required for migratory bird research including collection, handling, and transfer of birds and eggs (both live and dead specimens) as well as disturbance that might stem from research activities. As in the U.S., a federal permit is required to band migratory birds; requests to band endangered species receive special review. Research proposals, including banding permit requests, also are reviewed by regional or local animal care committees.

Provincial requirements for plover research vary. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba require project proposals and reports. Alberta also requires a collection permit if plovers or their eggs are handled, and in Manitoba a special permit is required for investigations in provincial parks.


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