Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
PAUL M. MAYER AND MARK R. RYAN
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1500 Capitol Avenue, Bismarck, AD 58501;
School of Natural Resources, 112 Stephens Hall, University of Missouri,
Columbia, MO 65211
Electric predator-fences were constructed at four sites at JWMNP in 1986 to 1987 to increase piping plover productivity. Fences consisted of 2.5-cm-wire mesh supported by T-posts along with a series of three electrically charged wires placed on the outside of the barriers. Fences enclosed entire nesting beaches; unfenced beaches were used as controls to test fence efficacy. Fenced and unfenced beaches harbored from 3 to 15 nests each.
Mean nest survival at fenced beaches was 70% higher than at unfenced beaches (t=2.31, 52 df, P=0.025). Mean chick survival at fenced beaches was increased by 55% over that at unfenced beaches (t=1. 8, 52 df, P=0.077). Mean number of chicks fledged per pair of breeding piping plovers was higher inside the fences (t=2.0, 52 df, P=0.051) than at unfenced beaches.
Production inside fences was in the range (1.15-1.44 chicks per pair) calculated as necessary to maintain a stable piping plover population in the northern Great Plains. We recommend electric fences be used where piping plover reproductive success is limited by terrestrial predators.