Action Plan for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Saskatchewan [Proposed] - 2009

Species at Risk Act
Action Plan Series

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF APPENDICES

LIST OF TABLES


Piping Plover

Piping Plover

About the (Species at Risk Act) Action Plan Series

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003, and one of its purposes is “to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.”

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation, recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species’ persistence in the wild. A species will be considered recovered when its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is an action plan?

Under SARA, an action plan provides the detailed recovery planning that supports the strategic direction set out in the recovery strategy for the species. The plan outlines what needs to be done to achieve the recovery goals and objectives identified in the recovery strategy, including the measures to be taken to address the threats and monitor the recovery of the species, as well as the measures to protect critical habitat . The socio-economic impacts of implementing the plan are also evaluated. Additional project-specific action plans may also be created for a species that address other areas of recovery implementation.

The approach of developing a recovery strategy followed by one or more action plans has been endorsed by all provinces and territories as well as the federal government. Action plans offer the opportunity to involve many interests in working together to find creative solutions to recovery challenges. Sections 47–55 of SARA outline both the required content and the process for developing action plans published in this series.

What’s next?

Directions set in the action plan are intended to involve jurisdictions, communities, land users, and other interested parties in implementation of conservation activities that build towards recovering the species. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the action plans prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as plans are updated.

To learn more

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and conservation initiatives, please consult the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry.

Action Plan for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Saskatchewan [Proposed] 2009

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2009. Action Plan for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Saskatchewan [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Action Plan Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. vi + 24 pp. with Appendices.

Additional copies:

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SAR Public Registry.

Cover illustration: Judie Shore ©.

Également disponible en français sous le titre « Plan d’action pour le Pluvier siffleur (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) en Saskatchewan [Proposition] »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2009. All rights reserved.
ISBN
Catalogue no.

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

DECLARATION

This action plan for the Piping Plover, circumcinctus subspecies, was prepared in cooperation with jurisdictions responsible for the species, as described in the Preface. Environment Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as an action plan for the Piping Plover, circumcinctus subspecies as required by the Species at Risk Act (SARA). This plan may be one of several action plans that provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation of the species.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this plan and will not be achieved by Environment Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. In the spirit of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of the Environment invites all Canadians to join Environment Canada in supporting and implementing this plan for the benefit of the Piping Plover, circumcinctus subspecies and Canadian society as a whole. Environment Canada will endeavour to support implementation of this plan, given available resources and varying species at risk conservation priorities. The Minister will report on progress, as well as the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the plan, within five years, as required under SARA.

RESPONSIBLE JURISDICTIONS

Environment Canada
Government of Saskatchewan

AUTHORS

J. Paul Goossen – Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada
Sharilyn M. Westworth – Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to thank the following people for providing data which were used to determine critical habitat: Ursula Banasch (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service), Lance  Engley (Alberta Conservation Association), Cheri Gratto-Trevor (Environment Canada, Science and Technology Branch), Debbie Nielsen (SaskPower), Margaret Skeel (Nature Saskatchewan) and Corie White (Saskatchewan Watershed Authority). We also thank Gillian  Turney (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service) for helping with the quarter section analyses for critical habitat. The plan benefited from the comments of Frances Bennett, Bill Bristol, Robert Décarie, Dave Duncan, Sue McAdam, Dean Nernberg, Debbie Nielsen, Jeanette Pepper, Marie-José Ribeyron, Carolyn Seburn, Margaret Skeel, Tanys Uhmann and Corie White.

STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSEMENT STATEMENT

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision- making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that plans may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non–target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the plan itself, but are also summarized below.

This action plan will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the Piping Plover, circumcinctus subspecies. The potential for the plan to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. The SEA concluded that this plan will clearly benefit the environment and will not entail any significant adverse effects. The reader should refer to relevant sections in this document (Critical Habitat; Critical Habitat Protection; Actions and Performance Measures; Effects on Other Species; Socio-economic Evaluation) and in the recovery strategy (Importance to Humans; Threats; Recovery Feasibility; Approaches Recommended to Meet Recovery Objectives and Effects on Other Species).

PREFACE

The Piping Plover is a migratory bird covered under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and is under the management jurisdiction of the federal government.  The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 47) requires the competent minister to prepare action plans, based on the recovery strategy, for listed extirpated, endangered, or threatened species.  The Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies was designated as Endangered by Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 2001 (COSEWIC In press) and officially listed under SARA in June 2003.  In Saskatchewan, the Piping Plover is listed as endangered in The Wild Species at Risk Regulations under The Wildlife Act (part V).  This designation protects the Piping Plover from being disturbed, collected, harvested, captured, killed and exported, and it protects its nest from disturbance and destruction.  Although provincial agencies are represented on the Prairie Piping Plover Recovery Team, there currently is no provincial Piping Plover recovery team or implementation group specifically for the province of Saskatchewan.  The Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie and Northern Region, Environment Canada, led the development of this action plan.  The proposed action plan meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Section 49).  It was developed in cooperation or consultation with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment, SaskPower and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority.  Environment Canada acknowledges the contribution of the draft Piping Plover Conservation Plan prepared by SaskPower and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority for Lake Diefenbaker to the recovery of Piping Plover in Saskatchewan.
It is one of four action plans that outline measures required to implement the Recovery Strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada (Environment Canada 2006). Consultations with parties potentially affected by this action plan were held prior to its posting on the Species at Risk registry. These included Nature Conservancy of Canada, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of the Environment, SaskMinerals, SaskPower and Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. Also, landowner/lessees in areas where meetings were planned, received a letter making them aware of the action plan, identifying critical habitat quarter sections which may affect their activities and an invitation to attend an information meeting at one of the following locations: Chaplin, Riverhurst, Bengough and Assiniboia. For landowners/lessees in areas where meetings were not planned, a modified letter was sent, extending an invitation to contact the Canadian Wildlife Service so a telephone call could be arranged to discuss questions or issues and if necessary, arrange for a personal visit.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) is listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act and under the provincial Wildlife Act in Saskatchewan. Plovers are found in Saskatchewan from May through early August and breed on sandy-gravelly shores of alkali and freshwater water bodies and on river sandbars. Saskatchewan supports 27-41% of the Northern Great Plains Piping Plover population and 80-84% of the Canadian prairie population. During 1991-2006, Saskatchewan’s Piping Plover population ranged from 805 – 1420 adults. Piping Plover habitat availability is affected by water levels; this species historically, has occurred at 172 sites in Saskatchewan, however, in 2006, Piping Plovers were found at only 66 wetlands and the South Saskatchewan River including Lake Diefenbaker.

This action plan follows the previously published Recovery Strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada (Environment Canada 2006). The long-term recovery goal established by this recovery strategy for the Canadian population of this subspecies is to achieve a viable, self-sustained, and broadly distributed population, within the current prairie population range, and the reestablishment of the Piping Plover in the historical southern Ontario range. The population objective for the Piping Plover in Saskatchewan is a minimum of 1200 adults over three consecutive international censuses.

This action plan pertains to the portion of the Prairie Canada population of the Piping Plover circumcinctus found in Saskatchewan.  Six of the recovery objectives identified in the recovery strategy pertain to this population of the Piping Plover.

In Saskatchewan, threats to the Piping Plover’s recovery include predation of eggs and young, habitat and productivity losses owing to water management and precipitation, and habitat quality changes because of drought, recreational activities and cattle trampling on beaches.

The identification of critical habitat included in this action plan corrects and replaces the previous identification of critical habitat published in the Addendum to the Final Recovery Strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada Re: Identification of Critical Habitat (Environment Canada 2007). Critical habitat identified in this action plan for the Piping Plover circumcinctus in Saskatchewan occurs in 156 quarter sections located within 31 basins.

Recovery actions are listed under four general approaches: effective plan administration, population and habitat monitoring, habitat management and protection and effective communication. An implementation schedule lists recovery actions under each broad approach, prioritizes actions, identifies responsible agencies and delineates timelines.

Proposed conservation and management measures in this action plan will have limited socio-economic impact and constraints to human land use.  

1. SYNOPSIS OF RECOVERY STRATEGY AND UPDATE

1.1 Associated Recovery Strategies

Environment Canada. 2006. Recovery Strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. vi + 30 pp.

Environment Canada. 2007. Addendum to the Final Recovery Strategy for the Piping
Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada Re: Identification of Critical Habitat.  Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. 12 pp.

1.2 Species Assessment Information from COSEWIC

Date of Assessment: May 2001

Common Name (population): Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies

Scientific Name: Charadrius melodus circumcinctus

COSEWIC Status: Endangered

Reason for Designation:
The number of individuals of this subspecies breeding in Canada is small and the population is in decline.  Reproductive success is low, especially in years of drought, and nests are regularly lost because of flooding.  The quality of nesting habitat is decreasing in many places.

Canadian Occurrence:Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario

COSEWIC Status History:

The species was considered a single unit and designated Threatened in April 1978.  Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 1985.  In May 2001, the species was re-examined and split into two groups according to subspecies.  The circumcinctus subspecies was designated Endangered in May 2001.  Last assessment based on an update status report

1.3 Description of the Species

The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small, migratory shorebird with a pale, dry sand coloured back and head, white under-parts and orange legs.  When in breeding plumage, the short bill is orange with a black tip, a single black band stretches between the eyes, and one runs across the breast (Haig 1992). Piping Plovers are characterized by their high-pitched “pipe” call and habit of breeding on open sand or gravel beaches (Goossen et al. 2002).

1.4 Populations and Distribution

The Piping Plover is divided into two subspecies: the Atlantic C. m. melodus and the inland C. m. circumcinctus (AOU 1957). The circumcinctus subspecies includes two populations: Prairie Canada and Great Lakes. Within Canada, C. m. circumcinctus occurs in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. The Prairie population is part of the continental Northern Great Plains population. The 2001 International Piping Plover Census estimated the Great Lakes and Northern Great Plains/Prairies populations at 3025 adults. Of these, 973 adults (32%) were in Canada with breeding pairs recorded only in the Prairie population and no breeding pairs recorded in the Great Lakes population (Haig et al. 2005)

Saskatchewan’s Population and Distribution

Saskatchewan supports 27-41% of the Northern Great Plains Piping Plover population and 80-84% of the Canadian prairie population. During 1991-2006, Saskatchewan’s Piping Plover population ranged from 805 – 1420 adults. Nearly all Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan are distributed on wetlands south of the 53rd parallel. Breeding has been documented as far north as Lake Athabasca (Adam 1984). Their distribution falls primarily within the prairie ecozone and to a lesser extent within the boreal plains ecozone. Historically, this species has occurred at 172 sites in Saskatchewan including five reservoirs and five river segments. Recent surveys in 2006 showed that Piping Plovers were found at 66 wetlands and the South Saskatchewan River including Lake Diefenbaker. About 60% of Saskatchewan’s Piping Plover population was distributed throughout the Missouri Coteau in 2006 (Hjertaas 2006), a natural landform that, in Saskatchewan, extends from the South Saskatchewan River to the U. S. border.

1.5 Threats

The Piping Plover has a small population with a wide distribution and faces continued threats. The greatest threats to recovery in Canada are predation, habitat loss, and human disturbance. In Saskatchewan, threats include predation of eggs and young, habitat and productivity losses owing to water management and precipitation, and habitat quality changes because of drought, recreational activities and cattle grazing and trampling on beaches.

1.6 Goals and Objectives for the Piping Plover (circumcinctus)

1.6.1 Goals

 The long-term recovery goal for C. m. circumcinctus is to achieve a viable1, self-sustained, and broadly distributed population, within the current prairie population range, and the reestablishment of the Piping Plover in the historical southern Ontario range.

1 A viable population has a less than 5% probability of becoming extinct within the next 100 years (U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service 1996). 

1.6.2 Population and Distribution Objectives

Prairie Canada Population
The recovery goal for the Prairie Canada population is 1626 adult Piping Plovers and is based on historical provincial counts and/or estimates. The population goal will be considered achieved if met for each of three consecutive international censuses (i.e., over 11 years). The minimum provincial population (adults) targets are as follows: Alberta 300; Saskatchewan 1200; Manitoba 120; and Ontario (Lake of the Woods) 6.

Canadian Great Lakes Population
The reestablishment of Piping Plovers on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes will depend on the success of the U.S. Great Lakes population. It is too early to set a recovery population goal for this population, as up until 2007 no breeding had occurred on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes since 1977 (Lambert 1987). In the summer of 2007, one pair successfully bred and fledged three young at a beach site along the Lake Huron shoreline (Elder 2008) and in 2008 Piping Plovers again bred successfully in southern Ontario (Heyens 2008). The objective at this time is to ensure protection through active stewardship and monitoring of historical breeding habitat and any breeding pairs or individuals that may occur.

1.6.3 Recovery Strategy Objectives(2006-2010)

  1. Update Prairie Canada population status (numbers and distribution).
  2. Increase knowledge of population dynamics and predators.
  3. Achieve and maintain a fledging rate of at least 1.25 fledglings per pair per year for managed sites.
  4. Identify critical habitat and achieve critical habitat protection to the extent possible through the setting of cooperative conservation measures.
  5. Support relevant conservation practices, policies, and legislation.
  6. Achieve effective protection of wintering habitat through international efforts.
  7. Prepare for potential reestablishment of the Canadian Great Lakes population.

The Saskatchewan action plan pertains only to Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan and therefore does not address the above objectives from the recovery strategy throughout the species range in Canada (see section below on Scope of the Action Plan for further details). 

1.7 Critical Habitat addressed in the Recovery Strategy

Critical habitat was identified in 22 quarter sections within 7 basins in Saskatchewan in the Addendum to the Final Recovery Strategy for the Piping
Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada Re: Identification of Critical Habitat
(Environment Canada 2007).  Further details on the methodology used, the identification and the description of critical habitat can be found in the Recovery Strategy (Environment Canada 2006) and its addendum (Environment Canada 2007).

In the Recovery Strategy addendum, the 22 quarter sections identified as having critical habitat in Saskatchewan were all under federal ownership or federal jurisdiction. That identification of critical habitat for the Piping Plover circumcinctus in Saskatchewan is modified by this action plan (see section 2.2.1)

2. Recovery Actions

2.1 Scope of the Action Plan

The recovery actions outlined in this action plan are based on strategies and recommended approaches found in the Recovery Strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada (Environment Canada 2006). This action plan pertains only to Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan, and therefore does not address recovery strategy objectives beyond this province’s jurisdiction. The geographic extent of this action plan includes those regions wherein Piping Plovers are known to occur within Saskatchewan; however, management efforts will be focused in the southern portion of the province where the majority of plovers are found. Protection of wintering grounds will be advocated through international means. The recovery objectives to be implemented in this action plan are the six recovery objectives identified in the recovery strategy that pertain to the species’ Prairie Canada population.

2.2 Critical Habitat

2.2.1 Identification of the critical habitat

Critical habitat in Saskatchewan is being fully identified in this action plan to the extent possible according to criteria published in the Addendum to the Final Recovery Strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada Re: Identification of Critical Habitat (Environment Canada 2007) and based on information current to 2007. The areas identified herein supersede those areas previously identified as critical habitat in the addendum to the strategy (see Environment Canada 2007).  Critical habitat is defined in the Species at Risk Act as “…the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species…” (Sub-section 2(1)).

The Addendum to the Final Recovery Strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada Re: Identification of Critical Habitat (Environment Canada 2007) describes the criteria and minimum requirements for identifying basin sections which are likely to contain critical habitat.  For a basin to be considered likely to contain critical habitat in Saskatchewan, the average number of adult plovers recorded in all surveys carried out at that basin over the last 15 years must be greater than or equal to four. For each basin, the surveys used in this averaged must include at least three surveys completed during the breeding season, and may include any surveys conducted in addition to the surveys undertaken as part of the International Piping Plover Breeding Census. A basin is also considered likely to contain critical habitat if, in any single year over the last 15 years, the number of adult plovers counted in a survey of that basin is greater than or equal to 5% of the Saskatchewan recovery target of 1200 adults.
A total of 31 basins meet these criteria in Saskatchewan (Table 1). Due to the dynamic nature of Piping Plover habitat and populations, these criteria and proposed critical habitat sites will be re-evaluated every five years. Within these 31 basins, critical habitat was delineated at the quarter section level using the criterion specified in the addendum to the recovery strategy (Environment Canada 2007). The criterion used was as follows: quarter sections with critical habitat are those where use has been documented by > 2 Piping Plover pairs or > 2 nests, or > 4 adults in > 2 breeding seasons over a floating 15-year window. In total, 156 quarter sections (Appendix B) contain critical habitat for Piping Plovers based on these criteria. Within these quarter sections, critical habitat is defined as the area of the shore between the ordinary high-water mark and the water’s edge. Critical habitat included in Appendix B corrects, updates and replaces all other lists including the list published on the SARA Public Registry (Environment Canada 2007) and is the current official critical habitat list for Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan. About 76% of the quarter sections are titled solely to the provincial crown (Table 2). Most (55%) of the quarter sections with critical habitat are located on three basins: Big Quill Lake (23), Lake Diefenbaker (37) and Chaplin Lake (26).

Critical habitat for the Piping Plover is the habitat which contains the key habitat attributes (Appendix A) found on beaches between the high water mark and the water’s edge of a lake, wetland or a sandbar in the case of a river. Critical habitat excludes human-made structures (e.g., piers, buildings, dams, marinas, etc.), however, exceptions may be made as is the case in Manitoba, where some of the province’s very small population breeds on one or two parking lots (Environment Canada, In prep.).

2.2.2 Examples of activities likely to result in destruction of critical habitat

The following are examples of human activities which may cause destruction of critical habitat: “agricultural activities (e.g., tillage, excessive cattle activity on shorelines), resource extraction (mining, oil and gas development), infrastructure development (construction of roads, pipelines, bridges or marinas), radical or lasting alterations to normal hydrological regimes (e.g., wetland drainage, construction of dams, lasting increases of water level), pollution of water or shorelines, and excessive recreational use (e.g., all-terrain vehicles, vehicular traffic)” (Environment Canada 2007). Resource extraction activities which may cause destruction of critical habitat include chemical spills, infrastructure development, vehicle transport and direct or indirect effects on water levels.  The overall magnitude of threats to critical habitat is not high (Table 3).

Table 1.  Basins which contain Piping Plover critical habitat in Saskatchewan.
Official basin nameUnofficial basin nameLatitudeLongitude
Aroma Lake 52° 18' N108° 33' W
Big Quill Lake 51° 55' N104° 22' W
Bliss Lake 49° 47' N105° 30' W
Burn Lake 49° 43' N105° 28' W
Channel Lake 49° 31' N105° 16' W
Chaplin Lake 50° 22' N106° 36' W
Coal Mine Lake 49° 22' N105° 02' W
Dryboro Lake 49° 43' N105° 30' W
East Coteau Lake 49° 02' N104° 26' W
East Poplar RiverCookson Reservoir49° 03 N105° 27 W
Fife Lake 49° 14' N105° 53' W
Frederick Lake 50° 02' N105° 47' W
Freefight Lake 50° 24' N109° 07' W
Freshwater Lake 52° 37' N109° 59' W
Lake Diefenbaker 50° 43' N107° 30' W
Last Mountain Lake 51° 05' N105° 14' W
Manitou Lake 52° 43' N109° 43' W
Midtskogen Lake 50° 24' N106° 39' W
Old Wives LakeLake Johnston50° 06' N106° 00' W
Redberry Lake 52° 42' N107° 10' W
Reed Lake 50° 24' N107° 05' W
Reflex LakesWest Reflex Lake52° 67' N110° 00' W
Sandoff Lake 49° 05' N104° 09' W
Shoe Lake 49° 44' N105° 21' W
UnnamedWetland 540 279, Butterfly Lake49° 49' N105° 38' W
UnnamedWetland 705 056 Zaremba Lake49° 42' N104° 24' W
UnnamedWetland 840 020, Snail Lake49° 39' N105° 13' W
UnnamedWetland 842 027, Bunnyhug Lake49° 39' N105° 13' W
UnnamedWetland 846 992, Prairie Chicken Lake49° 39' N105° 13' W
UnnamedWetland 870 825, Horizon Lake49° 03' N105° 11' W
Willow Bunch Lake 49° 27' N105 ° 27' W

 

Table 2.  Ownership of quarter sections in Saskatchewan which contain Piping Plover critical habitat.
Land TitleNo. of quarters
Federal crown*9
Provincial crown118
Provincial crown corporation10
Private5
Federal crown* and provincial crown2
Provincial crown and rural municipality1
Provincial crown, rural municipality and private1
Provincial crown and private10
Total156
*:Critical habitat identified in the quarter sections under lease may
be Provincial crown land depending on the terms of the lease. 
Table 3.  Current and potential threats to critical habitat in Saskatchewan.
ThreatPrimary concernGeographical extentLikelihood of threat
CattleCattle on beachesLocalized but range-wide except in the northModerate
Water managementHigh water levelsLocalized (South Saskatchewan River)High
RecreationVehicles and All Terrain Vehicles on beachesLocalized but range-wideLow
Resource extractionSpills, surface disruption, water level changesLocalizedLow
InfrastructureHydrological changesLocalizedLow
PollutionUrban or industrial release of waste or spillsLocalizedLow

2.2.3 Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat

As Piping Plover surveys continue in Saskatchewan, Environment Canada anticipates that additional quarter sections may be identified as critical habitat. It will be important to collect the relevant information (Table 4) needed to determine whether additional quarter sections meet the criteria for Piping Plover critical habitat.

Table 4.  Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat.
Description of ActivityOutcomeTimeline
1. Review status of lakes, wetlands and rivers known to support plovers and identify quarter sections which require additional surveys to meet critical habitat criteria.New potential critical habitat beaches are identified and logistics arranged to survey them.2009-2013
2. Census and obtain geographic coordinates of Piping Plovers and nest locations on wetlands needing additional surveys to identify quarter sections with critical habitat.Piping Plovers are counted and their locations documented on specific basins in order to assess whether critical habitat quarter section criteria are met.2009-2013
3. Update proposed new critical habitat list.Additional critical habitat is identified based on new surveys and critical habitat criteria.2013
4. Review and refine critical habitat criteria if required and submit new proposed critical habitat for approval with the next revised recovery strategy.Critical habitat criteria re-assessment provides opportunity for quality control and evaluation. New critical habitat for Piping Plovers is submitted for approval.2013

2.3 Critical Habitat Protection

The information below outlines the protection measures known to Environment Canada at the time of publication for critical habitat of Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan.

The protection of Piping Plover critical habitat in Saskatchewan may be achieved through legislation (provincial and federal) and agreements under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act, and further enhanced through stewardship agreements and landowner extension and education. Specific site designations also recognize the importance of particular habitats or sites. Most quarter sections with critical habitat are found on provincial lands (82%); the remaining are found on federal lands (6%), private lands (3%) and those with multiple ownerships (9%). Critical habitat within those quarter sections is located within the confines of a wetland basin which typically remain property of the provincial crown.

Due to the dynamic nature of Piping Plover habitat and the definition of critical habitat, it is possible for the occasional nest to be located outside of defined areas of critical habitat. The Species at Risk Act (2002) protects against the damage or destruction of Piping Plover residences (i.e. nests). The Migratory Bird Convention Act (1994) also protects against the damage or destruction of migratory bird nests, including those of the Piping Plover, regardless of where those nests are located in Canada.  Therefore in Saskatchewan, all nests of the Piping Plover are protected from damage or destruction.

Federal Lands
Under the federal Species at Risk Act (2002), critical habitat that is located within a national park, a marine protected area, a migratory bird sanctuary or a national wildlife area is protected 90 days after a description of that habitat is published in the Canada Gazette. The one quarter section of Piping Plover critical habitat which is located within the Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area is currently protected under subsection 58(1) of SARA. Critical habitat on federal land which is not located within a federal protected area can be protected if provisions in, or measures under, another Act of Parliament prevent against its destruction or by an order made by the federal Minister of the Environment to apply the SARA prohibition against destruction.

Provincial Crown Lands
Habitat protection on specifically designated crown lands is afforded through the Saskatchewan Wildlife Habitat Protection Act (1992). In this Act, listed lands are not allowed to be altered without authorization or permission (Section 7(1)). Of the 156 quarter sections which contain critical habitat, 119 (77%) have Wildlife Habitat Protection Act designation. About 57% of the area within these 119 quarter sections is protected under this Act.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Management and Protection Act (2002) also provides for protection of beds, banks or boundaries of wetlands and rivers. Section 36(1) of this Act states:
“Without a valid permit authorizing the activity, no person shall, directly or indirectly:

  • a) alter or cause to be altered the configuration of the bed, bank or boundary of any river, stream, lake, creek, marsh or other watercourse or water body;
  • b) remove, displace or add any sand, gravel or other material from, in or to the bed, bank or boundary or any river, stream, lake, creek, marsh or other watercourse or water body; or
  • c) remove vegetation from the bed, bank or boundary of any river, stream, lake, creek, marsh or other watercourse or water body.”

Because plover critical habitat occurs on these landforms, the Environmental Management and Protection Act (2002) applies to all Piping Plover critical habitat within Saskatchewan.

In addition, the Saskatchewan Provincial Lands Act (1978) enables the provincial government to reserve wetlands for the purpose of their protection. All agricultural lease agreements have the following clauses:

“The Lessee shall not, without the prior written consent of the Minister, do any of the following on the leased lands: 

  • a) knowingly destroy, alter or remove the residence or usual place of habitation of any wild plant or animal species that is a "wild species at risk"  within the meaning of The Wildlife Act, 1998; 
  • b) cultivate any naturally vegetated areas including riparian areas, native prairie or dry lake beds;"  

The Provincial Lands Act’s protective measures would apply to 40% of the critical habitat quarter sections proposed in this action plan.

In addition to legislation, protection of critical habitat located on provincial Crown lands with critical habitat may be afforded through stewardship agreements which will be put in place to ensure the protection of critical habitats that face significant threats.

Private lands
Five quarter sections (3%) containing critical habitat are privately owned, with the exception of wetland basins which remain under the provincial crown. As the critical habitat associated with these lands is located within the confines of a wetland basin, it is owned by the provincial crown.

Activities within these quarter sections can impact critical habitat and reproductive success of Piping Plovers. Stewardship agreements can eliminate or reduce threats to critical habitat located on privately owned lands. The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority’s cost-shared, voluntary habitat enhancement agreements with producers and voluntary stewardship extension programs, may also apply to Piping Plover habitat protection (G. McMaster, pers. comm.). Critical habitat on non-federal lands must be effectively protected by the province.

2.4 Actions and Performance Measures

(Actions are listed in standard font and performance measures in italics).

2.4.1 Action plan administration

2.4.1.1Coordinate and implement the Saskatchewan Piping Plover action plan.

Percentage of action plan items coordinated and implemented annually.

2.4.1.2 Track objectives and assess progress toward achieving recommended actions.

Number of action plan items tracked and assessed annually.

2.4.1.3 Report recovery progress annually to the Prairie Piping Plover Recovery Team.

Assessment by recovery team of action plan implementation and recovery progress reported annually.

2.4.1.4 Require researchers and managers to submit reports and publications to the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre (SK CDC) and Environment Canada, and submit occurrence data of all Piping Plover observations to the SK CDC.

Number of reports, publications and occurrence data submitted to appropriate agency depositories annually.

2.4.1.5 Require conservation and research agencies to obtain proper federal and provincial permits for management or research activities which involve disturbing or handling plovers, nests and eggs.

Number of permits approved for cooperators engaged in field conservation regarding SARA and Migratory Birds Convention Act permit and Saskatchewan Research Permit requirements for wild species at risk.

2.4.2 Monitoring and research

2.4.2.1 Implement data collection and management standards (e.g., Murphy et al. 1999) for documenting Piping Plover locations and habitat assessments.

Number of projects implementing Piping Plover data collection and management standards.

2.4.2.2  In 2011, as part of the fifth International Piping Plover Breeding Census, census and assess habitat conditions at all wetlands with recent/known occurrences of Piping Plovers and wetlands with historical occurrences of plovers that still have suitable habitat.

Percentage of wetlands where Piping Plovers were censused and habitat assessed during the 2011 International Piping Plover Breeding Census.

2.4.2.3 Obtain geographic coordinates of all adult Piping Plovers and nests observed during the 2011 census and assess threats.

Percentage of Piping Plovers and nest locations geo-referenced and number of threats assessed during the 2011 International Piping Plover Breeding Census.

2.4.2.4 Survey wetlands as appropriate or necessary to quantify and assess variation in breeding populations and habitat conditions.

Survey wetlands particularly at sites currently monitored - Lake Diefenbaker, Freshwater Lake and East Poplar River (“Cookson Reservoir”).

2.4.2.5 Conduct surveys on wetlands within federal lands which support Piping Plover populations or federally administrated lands to determine population numbers and assess habitat conditions.

Piping Plovers surveyed regularly at Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area and Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration pastures.

2.4.2.6 Monitor reproductive success annually at basins with productivity enhancements.

Number of basins surveyed for reproductive success where productivity enhancements were implemented

2.4.2.7 Survey wetlands with potential habitat for the presence of Piping Plovers and determine population numbers, breeding status and habitat suitability.

Number of wetlands with potential habitats surveyed.

2.4.2.8 Determine adult and juvenile dispersal, natal and breeding site fidelity, survival and other vital demographic parameters through directed research.

Report on demographic parameters completed.

2.4.2.9 Determine wintering locations of Saskatchewan Piping Plovers through reports of banded birds from researchers, general public and birdwatchers.

Number of wintering locations reported for Saskatchewan plovers.

2.4.3   Habitat management and protection

2.4.3.1 Identify water management practices that protect and enhance Piping Plover habitat at Lake Diefenbaker.

Number of water management practices to protect and enhance habitat at Lake Diefenbaker identified.

2.4.3.2 Identify and assess protection, management and stewardship needs at known and newly identified Piping Plover wetlands.

Number of known and newly identified Piping Plover wetlands surveyed, and protection and management needs identified.

2.4.3.3 Prioritize management and protection needs for existing critical habitat.

Protection and management needs for existing critical habitat prioritized.

2.4.3.3.1 Determine stewardship agreement needs for critical habitat.

Assess stewardship agreements needed for critical habitat and other wetlands.

2.2.3.4 Identify additional basins that may contain critical habitat and determine which quarter sections have critical habitat using criteria in the recovery strategy (Environment Canada 2006) and its addendum (Environment Canada 2007).

Percentage of new critical habitat identified.

2.4.3.4.1 Determine land tenure of new critical habitat quarter sections.

Percentage of new quarter sections with critical habitat identified as to land tenure.

2.4.3.5 Develop and circulate a list of priority wetlands needing protection or management to provincial and federal wildlife habitat managers.

Number of habitat managers sent priority wetlands list.

2.4.3.6 Implement practices, protection, management and stewardship agreements for critical habitat and at wetlands requiring attention.

Number of beneficial management practices and stewardship agreements implemented.

2.4.3.6.1 Implement outstanding recommended management actions identified in the “Piping Plover Basin site plans for the Missouri Coteau in Saskatchewan” (Saskatchewan Watershed Authority 2004).

Percentage of remaining management actions implemented for SWA’s conservation site plans.

2.4.3.7 Complete and implement the South Saskatchewan River Piping Plover Conservation Plan.

South Saskatchewan River Piping Plover Conservation Plan published by 2009 and implemented.

2.4.3.8 Integrate habitat management and protection objectives into ecosystem or multi-species plans which Saskatchewan may develop.

Number of Piping Plover habitat management and protection objectives integrated into ecosystem or multi-species plans.

2.4.4   Productivity enhancement

2.4.4.1 Protect Piping Plover eggs using predator exclosures as required.

Productivity increased to at least 1.25 chicks fledged/pair through use of predator exclosures at Lake Diefenbaker, Freshwater Lake and other wetlands as feasible.

2.4.4.2 Relocate clutches threatened by rising water levels at managed wetlands and river beds.

Number of clutches moved to prevent being flooded by rising water.   

2.4.4.3 Collect eggs, incubate and captive-rear and release chicks when extreme water levels exist along the South Saskatchewan River and Lake Diefenbaker. This action must be considered only as a last resort.

Number of chicks released through captive-rearing to mitigate for extremely high water conditions along the South Saskatchewan River and Lake Diefenbaker.

2.4.4.4 Set-up symbolic fencing (generally consisting of poles and coloured tape outlining a restricted area) in high public use areas to protect eggs and chicks from human disturbance.

Symbolic fencing is set-up at highly used beaches and their effectiveness assessed.

2.4.5 Communications

2.4.5.1 Distribute information brochures and pamphlets to wetland users (landowners, lessees, cottage owners and the public) to promote awareness and protection of the plover, its nest, chicks and habitat.

Estimate number of communication products distributed.

2.4.5.2 Post signage at relevant basins where public and Piping Plover use may conflict.   

Number of signs posted.

2.4.5.3 Give presentations to community groups, stakeholder associations, public schools and in provincial parks promoting awareness of the Piping Plover.   

Number of presentations given.

2.4.5.4 Promote recovery issues through media interviews, publications and public events.

Number of media contacts, publications, public events and presentations.

2.5 Monitoring

The primary monitoring method used to assess population numbers, trends and distribution in Saskatchewan is the International Piping Plover Breeding Census (see Haig et al. 2005, Hjertaas 2006), held once every five years. Monitoring at a few wetlands will in the interim provide supplemental information on population fluctuations, trends and reproductive success.

2.6 Implementation Schedule

The implementation schedule for activities mentioned in this action plan will commence in 2009 and end in 2013 (Table 5). The current action plan will be reviewed in 2013 and revised to accommodate recovery needs for the next five year period from 2014 – 2018.

Table 5. Implementation schedule of the Saskatchewan Piping Plover Action Plan1.
Action no.ActionRecovery Strategy ObjectivePredicted OutcomePriority
(1,2,3)
Threat addressedResponsibility2Timelines
      LeadParticipant 
2.4.1Action plan administration Increased habitat management, habitat protection, productivity and survival     
2.4.1.1Coordinate action plan implementationAll 1N/A3CWSNS, PFRA, SAF, MOE, SPSWA,2009 -2013
2.4.1.2Track objectives and assess progress of actionsAll 2N/ACWSNS, PFRA, SAF, MOE, SP, SWA2009 -2013
2.4.1.3Report progress to Prairie Piping Plover Recovery TeamAll 1N/ACWSAll2009 -2013
2.4.1.4Share reporting and dataAll 2N/ACWSAll2009-2013
2.4.1.5Advise on permit requirementsAll 1N/ACWSMOE2009-2013
2.4.2Monitoring and research Increased knowledge to effectively implement habitat and productivity management     
2.4.2.1Implement data collection and management standards1, 2, 3, 4 1N/ACWSSWA, MOE2009-2013
2.4.2.2Census plovers and assess habitat conditions1, 2 1All threatsNSMOE, SWA, SP, CWS, PFRA, SAF2011-2012
2.4.2.3Geo-reference plover and nest locations and assess habitat and threats in 20111, 2 1All threatsNSMOE, SWA, SP, CWS, PFRA, SAF2012
2.4.2.4Survey wetlands for plovers as appropriate1 2Habitat lossSWA, ACA4CWS, SP, NS2009-2013
2.4.2.5Survey Piping Plovers on federal or federally administered lands1 2All threats,CWS,PFRA2009-2013
2.4.2.6Monitor reproductive success at wetlands with productivity enhancements3, 2PredationSWA, ACA 2009-2013
2.4.2.7Survey potential wetlands for plovers1 2Habitat lossCWSSWA2009-2013
2.4.2.8Determine vital demographic parameters2 2All threatsCWSSWA2009-20010
2.4.2.9Identify wintering locations for Saskatchewan plovers1, 6 3Habitat lossCWS SWA2009-2013
2.4.3Habitat management and protection Increased habitat quality, habitat protection, productivity, and survival     
2.4.3.1Identify water management practices to protect and enhance habitat at Lake Diefenbaker3, 5 1Flooding, vegetation encroachmentSWAMOE, SP2009-2010
2.4.3.2Identify and assess protection, management and stewardship needs at known and new wetland sites3, 5 1Habitat loss, grazing, human disturbanceSWA, CWSMOE, SAF, PFRA, NS2009-2013
2.4.3.3Prioritize management and protection needs for existing critical habitat4 1All threatsSWA, CWSMOE, SAF,
NS
2009-2010
2.4.3.3.1Determine stewardship agreement needs for critical habitat4 1All threatsSWA, CWSMOE, SAF,
NS
2009-2010
2.4.3.4Identify additional basins which may contain critical habitat4 2All threatsCWSSWA, MOE2009-2013
2.4.3.4.1Determine land tenure for new critical habitat quarter sections4 1Habitat lossMOE, SAFCWS2009-2013
2.4.3.5Develop and circulate priority wetland list4 2Habitat lossCWS 2009-2013
2.4.3.6Implement practices,  protection, management, and stewardship at critical habitat and other wetlands4, 5 1Habitat loss,
grazing,
human disturbance
SWAMOE, CWS, NS2009-2013
2.4.3.6.1Implement outstanding management actions in SWA’s conservation site plans for Piping Plovers5 1Habitat loss,
grazing,
human disturbance
SWAMOE2009-2013
2.4.3.7Complete and implement the South Saskatchewan River Piping Plover Conservation Plan3, 5 1All threatsSWAMOE, SWA, SP, CWS, PFRA, SAF2009-2013
2.4.3.8Integrate habitat management and protection into ecosystem or multi-species plans5 3All threatsMOESWA2009-2013
2.4.4Productivity enhancement Increased productivity and survival     
2.4.4.1Protect Piping Plover eggs with predator exclosures3 1PredationSWA, ACA CWS2009-2013
2.4.4.2Relocate clutches3 1Habitat lossSWA 2009-2013
2.4.4.3Captive-rearing and release of chicks3 3Habitat and reproductive losses to floodingSWASPAs required
2.4.4.4Set-up symbolic fencing3 2Human disturbanceMOE 2009-2013
2.4.5Communications Increased habitat management, habitat protection, productivity and survival     
2.4.5.1Distribute brochures and pamphlet3, 5 3Human disturbanceNS, SWAMOE, CWS2009-2013
2.4.5.2Post signage at relevant wetland locations3, 5 2Human disturbanceMOESWA2009-2013
2.4.5.3Give presentations to the public, schools and others3, 5 3Human disturbanceNS, SWAMOE2009-2013
2.4.5.4Promote recovery through the media, publications and public events3, 5 3Human disturbanceCWSMOE, SWA, NS2009-2013

1 Implementation of this action plan is dependent on available funding, priorities and other resources of partner agencies.
2 Key to agencies: ACA= Alberta Conservation Association, CWS= Canadian Wildlife Service, NS = Nature Saskatchewan, PFRA= Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, MOE= Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, SP= SaskPower, SAF= Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, SWA= Saskatchewan Watershed Authority.
3 N/A= not applicable.
4 ACA monitors Freshwater Lake in west-central Saskatchewan given the close proximity of this wetland to the Alberta border.

3.   EFFECTS ON OTHER SPECIES

The activities identified in this action plan will not knowingly jeopardize the survival, distribution or abundance of other species. Migrating and breeding shorebirds will benefit from the added protection of wetland habitats that are recommended or initiated through this plan. Water management of reservoirs and river systems will require adaptable multi-species planning particularly as it pertains to the South Saskatchewan River system.

4.   SOCIO-ECONOMIC EVALUATION

4.1 Introduction

In the following sections, the potential costs and benefits of implementing this plan are summarized, including potential costs to affected parties. The primary approach to Piping Plover

recovery in Saskatchewan has been, and will continue to be, through stewardship initiatives with landowners and lessees. This approach is beneficial to both agricultural and conservation specialists and species at risk recovery managers. It also is crucial to reducing the cost of impacts and increasing the benefits to affected parties.

Most of Saskatchewan’s Piping Plover population is found in the Prairie Ecozone in the southern half of the province where agriculture is the primary land use activity. The average number of Piping Plovers seen in Saskatchewan over the four international censuses (1991-2006) was 1190 ± 279 (S.D.) adults. The provincial population goal of 1200 adult Piping Plovers over three consecutive international censuses (Environment Canada 2006), however, has not been achieved to date. Nevertheless, the objective is within reach. Achieving it will not require extensive additional habitat protection and will have a limited socio-economic impact.

Piping Plovers are known to have occurred historically at 172 wetlands (including the South Saskatchewan River) in Saskatchewan. This represents a small fraction of Saskatchewan’s 1.5 million wetlands in the agricultural region, however, most (>80%) of these wetlands are less than 1 ha in size (Huel 2000) making them unsuitable for plovers. Most wetlands with Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan are saline and less favorable to alternate uses. In fact, habitat is not a limiting factor for the Piping Plover in Saskatchewan and threats to breeding habitat at most wetlands are relatively minimal. Finally, proposed conservation and management measures in this action plan bear limited constraints for human land use.

4.2 Costs

4.2.1 Direct Costs

Piping Plover habitat is found primarily in the southern half of the province, mostly on alkali wetlands of poor economic and social value. These wetlands are of limited or no value to agriculture as the soils are not conducive to crop production, the water often is of low palatability, and the coarse shoreline vegetation is of little or no commercial or grazing value. Beaches used by plovers on these alkaline wetlands are rarely used by the public because they are not aesthetically suitable for swimming or picnicking. Some All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use occurs but to a limited extent.

Where livestock operations occur adjacent to these wetlands, modifications to grazing access and timing of access to shorelines may be needed in those circumstances where cattle activity on shorelines is excessive. This type of stewardship activity requires landowner/lessee cooperation and can be funded by the government or crown corporations, depending on funding availability and priorities, with landowner/lessee labour input as services-in-kind. Less than 55 landowners/lessees may be affected by this type of stewardship.

Resource industries are rarely found at these saline wetlands with the exception of salt extraction industries at a few sites. Costs to these agencies are expected to be negligible as their operations of water and salt extraction do not conflict with plover management.

The most significant socio-economic impact of this plan may be to water management of the South Saskatchewan River and associated costs to hydro-electric power generation. Pioneering work by CWS on Piping Plover management at Lake Diefenbaker, a reservoir on this river system, and more recently conservation work by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA) have resulted in ways of largely mitigating adverse effects of fluctuating water levels (see 5.3 Benefits) and greatly reducing the potential costs of interfering with water management operations. In a worst case scenario (spilling water at dams along the South Saskatchewan River), cost estimates of the potential impact to power generation from managing water levels for Piping Plovers at Lake Diefenbaker range from approximately 2-13 million dollars (Matheson 2005). These costs are almost entirely potential lost revenue and not actual operational costs and represent approximately 2-14% of net income (2006; $93,000,000; SaskPower 2006) for SaskPower, the utility primarily affected. Revenue losses may be incurred by SWA in spill years. This scenario is projected to occur in three out of ten years, however, in the past 38 years this situation has occurred only once. In the majority (70%) of years, no special water management will be required to accommodate nesting Piping Plovers and therefore little impact is expected on other Lake Diefenbaker users.

Implementation costs (including services-in-kind) of this action plan for 2009-2013 are estimated to be $1,910,000. These costs do not include salary costs, which are expected to be borne by participating agencies as both actual and/or service-in-kind costs. Annual costs to SWA for monitoring and managing Piping Plovers at Lake Diefenbaker are estimated to be between 0.3-0.5% of SWA’s annual operational costs (2006:$18,200,000; SaskWater 2006).      

4.2.2 Indirect costs

The socio-economic implications of implementing this action plan may include timing and occasional restriction of land-use activities and minor recreational restrictions. Minor inconveniences to recreationalists may occur where portions of beaches at freshwater lakes may be temporarily exclosed to prevent disturbance of nesting plovers or where restrictions to the use of ATVs may be introduced or are in effect (e.g., Provincial Parks at Lake Diefenbaker). These effects are considered more as inconveniences or required behavioural changes toward a more sustainable land use. The costs are estimated to be monetarily low and the number of potential affected parties limited.

4.3 Benefits

Many of the benefits derived are non-market commodities which are difficult to quantify. Wildlife, in all its forms, has value in and of itself, and is valued by Canadians for aesthetic, cultural, spiritual, recreational, educational, historical, economic, medical, ecological, and scientific reasons.  The conservation of wildlife at risk is an important component of the Government of Canada's commitment to conserving biological diversity. For Saskatchewan, biodiversity is crucial to its current and future economy and natural wealth. A self-sustaining healthy ecosystem with its various elements in place, including species at risk, contributes positively to landowner, lessee and public livelihoods.

Surveys of public attitudes toward nature show that wildlife is important to society and the economy. In 1996, Saskatchewan residents spent nearly $388 million in Saskatchewan and in other regions of Canada related to nature activities (Federal-Provincial-Territorial Task Force on the Importance of Nature to Canadians 2000). Protecting and profiling the Piping Plover lends credence to public sentiments about nature conservation and provides justification for wildlife agencies to pursue species at risk conservation and conservation education. International, national, and regional cooperation including Piping Plover recovery efforts has been a hallmark of migratory bird conservation in North America. The United States is depending on Canada to achieve its population recovery goals for the Piping Plover much as Canada is dependent upon the United States and Mexico to provide and maintain wintering habitat. Successful implementation of this action plan and the recovery of this subspecies in Canada may aid the United States in justifying down-listing or delisting the prairie population and thereby reducing recovery costs.  

Management of Chaplin Lake for the purpose of sodium sulphate production by Saskatchewan Minerals has improved habitat conditions for thousands of migratory shorebirds including the Piping Plover. Attaining wildlife stewardship and industrial goals at Chaplin Lake demonstrates that industry and species at risk can co-exist with mutually beneficial outcomes.

At Lake Diefenbaker, SWA is reducing Piping Plover reproductive losses by moving eggs away from rising reservoir waters, enclosing nests using wire enclosures to prevent predators from taking eggs, and releasing captive young hatched from eggs rescued from the threat of rising water. In most years, egg moving and enclosing nests are expected to eliminate or greatly reduce costs to power generation at Lake Diefenbaker. At saline wetlands, landowners and lessees whose shorelines need to be fenced off to restrict livestock grazing on beaches can benefit by keeping livestock on better quality pastures, keeping cattle out of saline areas where they may become mired, and through the provision of alternative, higher quality water sources.

This action plan also benefits Saskatchewan’s ecosystem planning approach to wildlife management and conservation in that it provides information on one component for completion of broader provincial ecosystem plans. This Piping Plover action plan can also serve as a model in the development of future action plans of other species and be used as a component of broader geographical ecosystem plans.

5. ASSOCIATED PLANS

In Canada, C. m. circumcinctus is found in four provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.  Recovery planning documents are being prepared, or will be adopted, for each of these jurisdictions to implement Piping Plover recovery actions. In Alberta, a recovery plan (Alberta Piping Plover Recovery Team 2006) was approved in 2006 by the provincial government and is expected to be adopted by the federal government shortly, as a SARA compliant action plan. Manitoba’s action plan is currently in preparation by Environment Canada in association with Manitoba Conservation.  Ontario’s action plan is being prepared by Environment Canada in cooperation with the Ontario provincial government and other partners.  

6. REFERENCES

Adam, C.I.G.  1984.  Piping Plover, Charadrius melodus, at Lake Athabasca, Saskatchewan: a significant northward range extension.  Canadian Field-Naturalist 98: 59-60.

Alberta Piping Plover Recovery Team. 2006. Alberta Piping Plover Recovery Plan, 2005-2010. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, Alberta Species at Risk Recovery Plan No. 10. Edmonton, Alberta. 27 pp.

American Ornithologists’ Union. 1957. Check-list of North American birds, 5th ed. American Ornithologists Union. Washingoton, D.C. 691 pp. COSEWICIn press (2001).  COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) and the melodus subspecies (Charadrius melodus melodus), in Canada.  Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.  Ottawa.  vii + 33 pp.

Drake, K.R., J.E. Thompson, K.L. Drake and C. Zonick.  2001.  Movements, habitat use and survival of nonbreeding Piping Plovers.  Condor 103: 259-267.
Dunlop, L.  2001.  The 2001 International Piping Plover Breeding Census – Saskatchewan.  Unpublished Nature Saskatchewan report prepared for Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management.  27 pp. + appendices.

Elder, D. H.  2008. Spring migration: Ontario. North American Birds 61: 578-580.

Environment Canada.  In prep. Action Plan for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Manitoba [Draft]. Species at Risk Act Action Plan Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa.

Environment Canada.  2006.  Recovery strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada.  Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series.  Environment Canada, Ottawa.  29 pp. plus an appendix.

Environment Canada.  2007.  Addendum to the final recovery strategy for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) in Canada re: identification of critical habitat.  Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series.  Environment Canada, Ottawa. 12 pp.

Federal-Provincial-Territorial Task Force on the Importance of Nature to Canadians. 2000. The importance of nature to Canadians: the economic significance of nature-related activities. Environment Canada, Ottawa

Goossen, J.P., D.L. Amirault, J. Arndt, R. Bjorge, S. Boates, J. Brazil, S. Brechtel, R. Chiasson, G.N. Corbett, R. Curley, M. Elderkin, S.P. Flemming, W. Harris, L. Heyens, D. Hjertaas, M. Huot, B. Johnson, R. Jones, W. Koonz, P. Laporte, D. McAskill, R.I.G. Morrison, S. Richard, F. Shaffer, C. Stewart, L. Swanson and E. Wiltse. 2002. National Recovery Plan for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus). National Recovery Plan No. 22. Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife. Ottawa. 47 pp.

Haig, S.M., and Elliott-Smith, E. (2004). Piping Plover. The Birds of North America Online. (A. Poole, Ed.) Ithaca: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved from The Birds of North American Online database

Haig, S.M. and J.H. Plissner. 1993. Distribution and abundance of Piping Plovers: results and implications of the 1991 International Census. Condor 95:145-156.

Haig, S.M. , C.L. Ferland, F.J. Cuthbert, J. Dingledine, J.P. Goossen, A. Hecht and N. McPhillips. 2005. A complete species census and evidence for regional declines in Piping Plovers. Journal of Wildlife Management 69: 160-173.

Harris, W.C. 1992. Impact assessment of Piping Plover breeding habitat on twenty-one lakes in southern Saskatchewan. Unpublished report prepared for Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation Corporation. 10 pp.

Heyens, L.E.  2008. 2008 Ontario report. Unpublished Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources report to the Prairie Piping Plover Recovery team. 9 pp.

Hjertaas, P.  2006.  The 2006 International Piping Plover Breeding Census in Saskatchewan.  Unpublished Nature Saskatchewan report.  25 pp. plus appendices.

Huel, D. 2000. Managing Saskatchewan wetlands ~ a landowner’s guide. Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation Corporation report. Regina, Saskatchewan. 60 pp. plus appendices.

Larson, M.A., M.R. Ryan and R.K, Murphy. 2002. Population viability of Piping Plovers: effects of predator exclusion. Journal of Wildlife Management 66: 361-371.

LeDee, O.  2005.  Winter distribution of Piping Plovers on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico: an analysis of habitat characteristics at major wintering sites.  M.Sc. thesis, University of Minnesota. St. Paul, Minnesota. 46 pp.

Matheson, S. 2005. The proposed South Saskatchewan River Piping Plover Plan: a study of the economic impacts. Unpublished SaskPower report. Regina, Saskatchewan. 18 pp.

Michaud, I. and D. Prescott.  1999. Use of predator exclosures to protect Piping Plover nests in Alberta and Saskatchewan: 1999 field season report.  Unpublished report, Alberta Conservation Association.  9 pp. plus appendices.

Murphy, R.K., M.L. Sondreal, D.A. Guenther and M.P. Nenneman. 1995. Reproductive success of Piping Plovers on alkali lakes in northwestern North Dakota. Pages 13-21 in Anonymous, Conservation of Piping Plovers in northwestern North Dakota, 1995 annual report. 19 pp. plus an appendix.

Murphy, R.K., B.G. Root, P.M. Mayer, J.P. Goossen and K.A. Smith. 1999. A draft protocol for assessing Piping Plover reproductive success. Pages 90 – 107 in Higgins, K.F., M.R. Brashier and C.D. Kruse (eds.) Proceedings, Piping Plovers and Least Terns of the Great Plains and nearby. Brookings, South Dakota State University. 132 pp.

Plissner, J.H. and S.M. Haig. 2000. Status of a broadly distributed endangered species: results and implications of the second International Piping Plover Census. Canadian Journal of Zoology 78: 128-139.

SaskPower. 2006. Annual report 2006.

Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. 2004. Piping Plover basin site plans for southern Saskatchewan. Unpublished Saskatchewan Watershed Authority report. 114 pp.
SaskWater. 2006. Clarity SaskWater annual report 2006.

Skeel, M.  1991.  The 1991 International Piping Plover Breeding Census  -  Saskatchewan.  Unpublished Saskatchewan Natural History Society report.  Regina, Saskatchewan.   69 pp. plus an appendix.

Smith, K.A. and E.M. Heilhecker. 1995. Management and reproductive success of Piping Plovers on Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, 1995. Pages 3-12 in Anonymous, Conservation of Piping Plovers in northwestern North Dakota. 1995 annual report. 19 pp.plus an appendix.

Westworth, S.M., D. Martens, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, J.P. Goossen and S. Davis. 2004. Northern Great Plains Piping Plover Science Workshop: 20-23 November 2003, Regina, Saskatchewan. Unpublished Canadian Wildlife Service report, Edmonton, Alberta. 58 pp.

White, C.L.  2005.  Reproductive ecology and nest attentiveness of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) breeding at Chaplin Lake, Saskatchewan.  M.Sc. thesis, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan.  100 pp.

Whyte, A. J. 1985. Breeding ecology of the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) in central Saskatchewan. M.Sc. thesis, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.

Zonick, C.A.  2000.  The winter ecology of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) along the Texas Gulf Coast. Ph.D. thesis, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. 168 pp.

Appendix A. Key habitat attributes of Piping Plovers (circumcinctus) in Canada.

  • Beach width > 10 m
  • Shoreline length > 0.4 km
  • Patches of gravel or sand/gravel
  • Sandbars
  • Distance to tree line from normal high-water mark > 50 m
  • Beach with < 50 % vegetation cover
  • Access to wet, sandy shoreline or seeps, small streams or interdunal wetlands for feeding
  • Alkali deposits present somewhere on beach (for alkali lakes/wetlands)
  • Adjacent upland vegetation from where insect drift occurs and
  • Key ecological processes that create, maintain or affect habitat such as weather including precipitation and drought, wind, groundwater, salinization, water fluctuations, vegetation encroachment or succession, fire and herbivory
Appendix B. Quarter sections with Piping Plover critical habitat in saskatchewan.
LAKE NAMEUNOFFICIAL NAMEQUARTER SECTION
Aroma Lake NE–18–38–18–3
Big Quill Lake NE–11–34–18–2
Big Quill Lake NE–12–34–17–2
Big Quill Lake NE–14–34–17–2
Big Quill Lake NE–27–33–18–2
Big Quill Lake NE–30–33–16–2
Big Quill Lake NE–31–33–16–2
Big Quill Lake NW–02–34–18–2
Big Quill Lake NW–06–34–16–2
Big Quill Lake NW–07–34–16–2
Big Quill Lake NW–13–34–18–2
Big Quill Lake NW–29–33–16–2
Big Quill Lake NW–30–34–17–2
Big Quill Lake NW–35–33–18–2
Big Quill Lake SE–11–34–18–2
Big Quill Lake SE–14–34–18–2
Big Quill Lake SE–25–34–18–2
Big Quill Lake SE–31–33–16–2
Big Quill Lake SW–06–34–16–2
Big Quill Lake SW–11–34–18–2
Big Quill Lake SW–18–34–16–2
Big Quill Lake SW–24–34–18–2
Big Quill Lake SW–30–34–17–2
Big Quill Lake SW–32–33–16–2
Bliss Lake NE–30–09–26–2
Bliss Lake NE–31–09–26–2
Bliss Lake NW–32–09–26–2
Bliss Lake SE–05–10–26–2
Burn Lake NE–04–09–26–2
Burn Lake NE–08–09–26–2
Burn Lake NE–09–09–26–2
Burn Lake NW–09–09–26–2
Channel Lake NE–05–07–24–2
Channel Lake NW–05–07–24–2
Chaplin Lake NE–02–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake NE–12–17–06–3
Chaplin Lake NE–17–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake NE–26–16–05–3
Chaplin Lake NE–35–16–05–3
Chaplin Lake NW–01–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake NW–03–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake NW–07–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake NW–08–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake NW–14–17–06–3
Chaplin Lake NW–24–17–06–3
Midtskogen Lake NW–34–16–05–3
Chaplin Lake SE–02–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SE–11–17–06–3
Chaplin Lake SE–12–17–06–3
Chaplin Lake SE–15–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SE–17–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SE–19–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SE–21–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SW–03–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SW–07–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SW–08–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SW–10–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SW–12–17–06–3
Chaplin Lake SW–14–17–06–3
Chaplin Lake SW–17–17–05–3
Chaplin Lake SW–26–16–05–3
Coal Mine Lake NE–04–05–23–2
Coal Mine Lake NW–04–05–23–2
Coal Mine Lake NW–34–04–23–2
Dryboro Lake NW–08–09–26–2
East Coteau Lake NE–14–01–19–2
East Coteau Lake SW–13–01–19–2
East Poplar RiverCookson ReservoirSW–29–01–26–2
Fife Lake NE–15–03–29–2
Fife Lake SE–16–03–29–2
Fife Lake SW–15–03–29–2
Fife Lake SW–22–03–29–2
Frederick Lake NW–28–12–28–2
Freefight Lake SE–04–17–23–3
Freshwater Lake NW–08–42–28–3
Freshwater Lake SE–17–42–28–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–04–24–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–05–24–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–09–24–04–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–17–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–20–25–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–23–23–04–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–26–26–07–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–28–24–05–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–30–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NE–35–26–07–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–04–24–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–04–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–05–24–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–09–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–20–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–21–25–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–27–23–04–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–27–24–05–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–27–25–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–30–24–04–3
Lake Diefenbaker NW–33–23–04–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–04–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–08–24–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–09–24–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–14–24–07–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–17–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–23–25–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–27–23–04–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–30–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SE–35–26–07–3
Lake Diefenbaker SW–09–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SW–10–24–04–3
Lake Diefenbaker SW–13–24–07–3
Lake Diefenbaker SW–18–24–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SW–20–26–06–3
Lake Diefenbaker SW–27–23–04–3
Lake Diefenbaker SW–29–25–06–3
Last Mountain Lake NW–14–27–24–2
Manitou Lake NE–04–44–26–3
Manitou Lake NW–02–43–26–3
Manitou Lake NW–08–44–26–3
Manitou Lake SE–04–44–26–3
Manitou Lake SE–18–44–26–3
Manitou Lake SW–04–44–26–3
Manitou Lake SW–11–43–26–3
Old Wives Lake NE–36–12–01–3
Old Wives Lake NW–02–14–29–2
Old Wives Lake NW–10–13–01–3
Redberry Lake NE–19–43–08–3
Redberry Lake SE–32–42–08–3
Reed Lake NE–33–16–08–3
Reed Lake SE–33–16–08–3
Reflex Lakes NW–33–42–28–3
Reflex Lakes SE–32–42–28–3
Reflex Lakes SW–03–43–28–3
Reflex Lakes SW–32–42–28–3
Sandoff Lake NE–36–01–17–2
Sandoff Lake NW–36–01–17–2
Sandoff Lake SW–01–02–17–2
Shoe Lake NE–17–09–25–2
Shoe Lake NW–17–09–25–2
Shoe Lake SE–20–09–25–2
Shoe Lake SW–20–09–25–2
Shoe Lake SW–21–09–25–2
UnnamedWetland 540 279 or Butterfly LakeNW–09–11–27–2
UnnamedWetland 540 279 or Butterfly LakeSW–16–11–27–2
UnnamedWetland 705 056 or Zaremba LakeSE–01–09–26–2
UnnamedWetland 705 056 or Zaremba LakeSW–01–09–26–2
UnnamedWetland 840 020, Snail Lake and 842 027SE–29–08–24–2
UnnamedWetland 842 027 or Bunnyhug LakeNE–29–08–24–2
UnnamedWetland 846 992 or Prairie Chicken LakeNE–17–08–24–2
UnnamedWetland 846 992 or Prairie Chicken LakeNW–16–08–24–2
UnnamedWetland 870 825 or Horizon LakeNW–28–06–24–2
UnnamedWetland 870 825 or Horizon LakeSW–28–06–24–2
UnnamedWetland 870 825 or Horizon LakeNE–28–06–24–2
Willow Bunch Lake NE–24–05–26–2
Willow Bunch Lake NW–09–05–25–2
Willow Bunch Lake NW–12–06–27–2
Willow Bunch Lake SE–04–06–26–2
Willow Bunch Lake SW–05–06–26–2