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Endangered species on Long Island have seen an unprecedented amount of human visitors during the pandemic. As park and beach attendance goes up, so too does concern for wildlife; CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports.
MAURICE DUBROIS: Endangered species on Long Island have seen an unprecedented amount of human contact during the pandemic.
KRISTINE JOHNSON: As park and beachgoer attendance goes up, so does concern for wildlife. CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports.
CAROLYN GUSOFF: Long Island beaches are still frigid but soon nesting shoreline birds, including piping plovers, will return. This small spit of North Shore land, called Hobart Beach, is home to a colony of endangered birds, a stopover during migration.
STEVE SINKEVICH: A number of shorebirds breed here, and nest here, and raise their young.
CAROLYN GUSOFF: And they're looking for peace and quiet but the pandemic hasn't helped.
STEVE SINKEVICH: There was a lot more people out here last year than usual. I think those people were kind of cooped up in their houses. But that affects the shorebirds.
CAROLYN GUSOFF: Fencing ignored. Trespassers a constant problem.
- Fishermen would walk around the fence. Boaters would pull up and, you know, either camp or spend the day.
CAROLYN GUSOFF: Unaware, perhaps, they were trampling eggs. They look like pebbles in the sand.
CHAD LUPINACCI: People don't realize the nests are camouflaged. And even when you're walking, you could step on the eggs and not even realize it, and then kill off generations of the birds.
CAROLYN GUSOFF: So now the town of Huntington is making it abundantly clear that this is a protected breeding ground. Fencing will be installed to the waterline, from April through August, so that boaters know this is not a place to bring dogs, picnic, or fish.
FRED UVENA: The dogs were stepping and eating the eggs. People didn't realize that they couldn't walk across, and they were stepping on them.
CAROLYN GUSOFF: There are only 400 pairs of piping plovers on Long Island and the number of Common Terns has plummeted. Beach walkers told us they were OK to give up a small section for wildlife.
- We have all this all the way around, so we don't need to go out there.
CAROLYN GUSOFF: At wider beaches you'll see fencing around nesting areas and will be asked to stay away. Here you won't be asked. You'll be warned and repeat offenders will be fined. In Eatons Neck, Long Island. Carolyn Gusoff. CBS2 News.