A very small bird that makes its home on the shoreline is being threatened by man, as well as beast.
Conservationists fear if trespassers continue to invade the habitat of the Piping Plover, their existence could be in danger.
Federal authorities said three Piping Plovers were recently killed in their nesting habitat at Griswold Point in Old Lyme. The area is only accessible at low tide.
Piping Plovers are a threatened species. According to the habitat's caretakers, the Nature Conservancy, signs aren't much of a deterrent.
"Because these areas are attractive for human use, it's a challenge to ensure that we try to minimize the impact of that human use in and around Griswold Point,” said David Gumbart, of the Nature Conservancy.
He said people ignore the signs and rope fences, and unleashed dogs, or kayakers walking the sandy beach where plovers live, may not see the nests or eggs.
"It is a private nature preserve and it is closed during the nesting season. In and that we'd be naive if we thought there wouldn't be use in and around the area,” Gumbart said.
An investigation is already underway at Bluff Point, a state park in Groton, where authorities believe a Piping Plover egg may have been intentionally stepped on.
"We want to try and do what we can to educate the public but our primary goal at this site is to ensure the success of the shore birds," Gumbart said.
The penalty is $25,000 or six months in jail if found guilty for taking an endangered or threatened animal; $12,000 for civil charges, and $1,000 if the act is deemed unintentional.
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