2017-07-04 / Front Page

Steer clear of nesting areas

Make sure to give the federally endangered interior least tern space if you see one, especially during the May-to- August breeding season, a DNR biologist says.

Late spring and early summer is when the species returns to Indiana to find suitable nesting habitat, according to non-game bird biologist Allisyn Gillet. These birds nest on the ground on islands or sandbars, where floods and human disturbance can pose a threat.

Several man-made sites assist in least tern nesting and are currently closed to public access. Nesting sites at Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area, Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area, and Tern Bar Slough are clearly marked with restricted-access signs.

People should not get closer than 200 yards to nesting sites but should only view them from areas open to the public.

In 2016, the number of fledgling terns produced was 80 chicks, compared to nearly 160 in 2015. The decrease may suggest high levels of predation and other causes of nest failure late in the nesting cycle.

Management of interior least terns continues to be challenging, Gillet said. Nesting sites must be kept free of dense vegetation and have fencing or the ability to manipulate water levels to deter ground predators. Biologists deploy decoys to attract birds to suitable sites.

If you see anyone approaching one of these restricted areas, call Indiana DNR Law Enforcement Central Dispatch at (812) 837- 9536.

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