- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2016

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) - The first piping plovers of the season are nesting in Maine.

The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Maine Audubon say the first nests were found in the towns of Kennebunkport, Kennebunk and Old Orchard Beach.

Piping plovers are protected as endangered in Maine and as threatened under federal law. Pets must be leashed on beaches with plovers.

Last year, more than 120 plover chicks took flight from Maine beaches.

Mark McCollough of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there were only 15 breeding pairs when they came under federal protection in 1986. He says the future now looks much brighter, with more than 60 pairs, thanks to support from coastal communities.

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