Understanding the state of management of human disturbances to shorebirds across the Atlantic Flyway of the U.S. and Canada


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1 December 21

Carolyn A. Comber, Ashley A. Dayer


Carolyn A. Comber
Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, 310 West Campus Drive, Blacksburg, VA, 24061, USA


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Shorebirds face many challenges such as habitat loss and degradation, predation, climate change, and human disturbance. Human disturbance is one of the most significant threats; however, there is little information about managers’ efforts to reduce disturbances. To create an understanding of the state of human disturbance management, we surveyed land managers along the U.S. and Canada portions of the Atlantic Americas Flyway. We found that general beachgoing and unleashed dog walking were the most common human disturbance activities at sites in the last five years. Restrictions to human activities were most common during the breeding season and were minimal during the non-breeding season. Unleashed dog walking was the most commonly restricted activity; yet, leashed and unleashed dog walking had the lowest levels of public compliance. Managers noted that fencing, informal outreach, and signage are the most effective techniques for encouraging perceived compliance. To continue efforts to reduce disturbance, managers need more staff and volunteers. Our results can guide organizations and agencies to make more informed decisions about how to support managers in addressing human disturbance to shorebirds.