Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge has been closed to vehicle traffic to protect newly-hatched piping plover chicks.

Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge is closed to oversand traffic. — Courtesy The Trustees of Reservations

Chris Kennedy, Vineyard superintendent for The Trustees of Reservations, said four piping plover chicks were born about a week ago and are venturing across the barrier beach at Cape Pogue. The area is now closed to oversand vehicles in accordance with state and federal guidelines, he said.

Mr. Kennedy said the closure will stay in place until the chicks fledge, which will likely take place in about three weeks. The closure only applies to vehicles and dogs.

Norton Point and Wasque, where anglers can find some “terrific fishing” right now, are still accessible, Mr. Kennedy said. Wasque can be accessed through bayside roads and the very southern oceanside portion of Leland Beach, the Trustees said this weekend.

Piping plovers are listed as threatened at both state and federal levels. The small migratory shorebirds nest on sandy coastal beaches and in dunes. Piping plover chicks are precocious; they are able to walk within hours of hatching and are born ready to forage for invertebrates. The chicks do not fly for several weeks, making them especially vulnerable to oversand vehicles. Beach closures to protect the plovers are a frequent occurence.

Mr. Kennedy said the piping plovers nested and hatched earlier than normal this year, so there is a chance the beach will be reopened by the Fourth of July.