Over the weekend, three oystercatcher chicks died under the wheels of motorists on Chappaquiddick’s East Beach. Despite dozens of warning signs and fencing by the nest sites, three different vehicles killed the baby birds — two south of Aruda Point, and one just north of the jetties, according to Chris Kennedy, Vineyard stewardship manager for The Trustees of Reservations.
“People are usually very mindful,” he said. A witness to one of the incidents indicated the chick was slain by a vehicle traveling faster than the 5 mph beach limit, he said, but efforts to find that vehicle weren’t successful.
Had the driver been caught by a ranger, Kennedy said, at a minimum their permit would be terminated. “We would not let them back on the property for one year,” he said.
While not listed as endangered, the American oystercatcher population in Massachusetts isn’t rosy. “State Fish and Wildlife is concerned with their numbers,” he said.
Nests are ample on Chappaquiddick, Kennedy said, but oystercatcher reproduction over the past two years has been “pretty dismal.”
For those who drive on Trustees’ beaches, he said, “People need to be aware of their surroundings.”