The closure of a small section of Higgins Beach has ruffled some feathers in Scarborough. | News

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The closure of a small section of Higgins Beach has ruffled some feathers in Scarborough.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When signs were erected late last week closing off a small section of Higgins Beach to the public, complaints started rolling in to town and state officials from residents concerned that they'd lost access to that part of the beach forever.

"Higgins is a huge beach, and what we are cordoning off at the tip is actually a small portion of that beach," explained Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Assistant Regional Biologist, Brad Zitske. "It is one of the few beaches in the state that piping plovers have used historically."

Zitske says the state took similar actions last year to protect the endangered birds. He says the move has nothing to do with an incident last year where a plover chick was mauled by a dog on nearby Pine Point Beach.

"This is certainly nothing, not any sort of punishment, this is strictly an opportunity for us to protect one of the beaches that is state owned property," he stated.

The signs, which proclaim 'Endangered Species Nesting Area and Shorebird Roosting Area. No Trespassing' are an effort to protect the birds while educating the public about the tiny piping plover.

"We have a lot of problems with teenagers and partying kids that will go inside the stake and twine and have vandalized and damaged our management and created abandonment and problems for the birds," said Laura Minich Zitske, an ecologist with Maine Audubon.

"It's trying to find a balance between people and wildlife, and that is always a challenge," she added.

The signs and closure will remain in place later into the summer than they have in years' past in an effort to protect the nesting birds until they start their journey south for the winter.

The issue over what to do about dogs on Scarborough's beaches continues to be a contentious one. In the wake of the dog attack last summer, the town council quickly adopted an ordinance prohibiting dogs from most every public place in the town. Voters repealed the measure last December.

Town Manager, Tom Hall, says the council has developed a series of proposals that will be brought before town residents for debate at a public hearing Wednesday April 16th at 7pm in the council chambers.


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