SPACE TO ROOST: WORKING WITH RECREATIONAL BEACH USERS TO SET ASIDE HIGH-TIDE ROOSTING SPACE FOR MIGRATORY SHOREBIRDS IN THE MINAS BASIN OF THE BAY OF FUNDY, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA
Migratory shorebird numbers are dropping, making shorebird conservation a necessity. Although conservation must incorporate human values, it is uncommon to develop strategies in collaboration with those seen as causing challenges. Through site audits, we identified anglers, photographers and others as causing shorebird disturbance at a roosting site in Nova Scotia. Through in-person surveys, an online survey, education, and outreach, we worked with recreational users to set aside a ‘Shorebird Resting Beach’ (SRB). Employing signage, handouts, and researcher presence, we asked users to avoid this beach from two hours before and after high tide in August. Baseline surveys of users and disturbance in 2016 were repeated in 2017 and 2018 when the SRB was launched. On the SRB, we found an overall decrease of 82% in the hourly rate of human-caused disturbance in 2017 from 2016, a 73% decrease from 2018 to 2016, and a 48% increase from 2017 to 2018. The number of users that went down to the SRB from the dyke dropped from just over half in 2016, to less than 10% in 2017 and 2% in 2018. The SRB had nearly half the hourly rate of disturbance of Middle Beach in 2016 and 2017, and a third in 2018. The SRB had less than a third of the rates of disturbance of East Beach in 2017 and 9.5 times less in 2018. Future work should include shorebird-human avoidance as a disturbance category and account for the proportion of birds disturbed of total shorebirds present. The implementation of SRBs shows promise as an effective tool when managers are confronted with conflicts between shorebirds and beach users.