In 1986, the Great Lakes population of piping plovers was listed as endangered, with only 17 wild nesting pairs. This low number was largely attributed to humans encroaching on its nesting environment at beaches, inland lakes and rivers.
To help save this endangered species, the Milwaukee County Zoo supports the efforts of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service biologists in Michigan, by sending staff to help monitor nests and collect abandoned or threatened eggs.
Threatened or abandoned eggs and chicks are brought to the University of Michigan Biological Field Station where they are hatched and then raised for re-release into the wild.
Our participation in this project has made a direct impact on the wild population of piping plovers. In 2011, there were 55 nesting pairs of wild plovers that produced 71 fledging (ready to fly) chicks. An additional 16 chicks were captive-reared and re-released into the wild.