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Piping plovers winter and summer on North Carolina's coast in areas including Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. However, wildlife officials report a drop in the plover population over the past several years. The migratory bird's decline is attributed to predators and loss of habitat.
The piping plover is an Atlantic shorebird listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In North Carolina, biologists found an increase in the piping plover population but believe plovers may have been under surveyed in the past.
Coastal North Carolina is the only place on the Atlantic Coast where the piping plover both breeds and winters in significant numbers. Commercial gunning in the early 20th-century almost drove the bird to extinction, and recovery only started after shorebird hunting was regulated in 1918. Starting in the 1940s, coastal development and human activity sent the population spiraling down again. In 1986, the bird was added to the endangered species list. Current intensive management appears to be helping the plover recover.