LONG ISLAND, NY – A federal manhunt is underway for the vandals who took eggs from some very rare birds at a beach in New York.
Police are offering a five thousand dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Piping plovers are small sand-colored Shorebirds that nest and feed on the beach.
“There’s about eight thousand worldwide. We work on the recovery of the Atlantic coast population where there is only about two-thousand.”
For years, from the Rockaways in Queens to Montauk on Long Island sections of the beach have been blocked off allowing them to nest and raise their young to help preserve the population.
“They are part of a whole ecosystem along the beach along the coast shoreline.”
But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says last month at far Rockaway Beach, someone damaged protective wire fences around two nests and swiped eggs from each.
“We have these large cages that we put over the plover nests we call them exclosures. They are designed to keep predators out. But they are very obvious to vandals and the predators where the nests are.”
These pictures show the damage and footprints in the sand.
“That’s horrible. I don’t know how people can do that.”
According to New York City’s parks department as of July 6th, there were 17-piping plover pairs with four nests, 11 eggs, five chicks, and four fledglings on Rockaway Beach.
During the summer mating season, biologists on Long Island and New York City are asking New Yorkers to help protect the threatened species by following posted rules on the precious Shorebirds, giving them space, keeping dogs on a leash and avoid feeding birds and leaving trash on the beach.
In the meantime, the investigation into who stole the eggs continues.
“It could be kids, it could be teenagers , it could be adults and they all have different motives of not being happy with the fencing to collecting them.”
“Hopefully they do catch the person.”
The Piping Plover is protected as a threatened species.
Authorities say anyone caught taking a bird or one of its eggs could face serious penalties including a 25-thousand dollar fine and jail time.