Team works to protect endangered Piping Plover bird

An effort is under way at Sleeping Bare Dunes to protect a rare northern Michigan bird that is on the endangered species list, the Piping Plover.

An effort is underway at Sleeping Bear Dunes to protect the Piping Plover bird that is on the endangered species list.

In 1986, there were only 17 pairs of birds but thanks to protective efforts, those numbers are growing.

"It's more than just preserving a lakeshore and an ecosystem as a whole," said wildlife intern, Edie Juno.

You can find the Piping Plovers along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore from early April to mid-June.

The birds come to nest from the Atlantic and Gulf coast.

"Once they do nest, we put up what's called a predator enclosure," said Plover crew leader Ethan Scott. "What it does is it doesn't keep the plovers in, it keeps the predators out."

Scott is part of the park's Plover monitoring and protection unit that works closely with several other organizations on this project.

Between predators and more people on the beaches, the Piping Plover has become critically endangered and the public's help is needed to protect them.

"Try to clean up after yourselves and don't leave food out on the beaches," Scott said. "If youâ??re in a petâ??s allowed area please keep your pets on a leach, that's a State of Michigan law but also respect where we ask people to not bring there pets."

Keeping this species safe is group effort that has attracted researchers from around the country.

"I wouldn't be here for eleven years, forty hours a week starting in April when there's still snow and until umm august when they leave me if I didn't really love piping plovers," Plover monitor Alice Van Zoeren said.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is always looking for volunteers and more help with researching and protecting the Piping Plovers.