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State's rarist bird is survivor on Apostle Islands

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outdoors River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Wisconsin's rarest bird confines itself to Long Island, part of the Apostles' chain near Bayfield.

The piping plover vanished from the state in 1983. But officials say there are about 19 birds today, as part of an intense conservation effort.

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Back in '83, wildlife agencies and conservation groups set up a quiet habitat favorable to the white endangered shoreline birds.

And in 1998, two piping plovers flew west from Michigan and settled on Long Island -- which the National Park Service controls as part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

The population has slowly grown. But the Apostles' head of natural resources, Julie Van Stappen, says it's not easy to protect them.

Two coyotes destroyed a pair of nests earlier this year. And the Park Service brought in federal trappers to get rid of the coyotes. Van Stappen said they did it because the bird's so rare.

The piping plover is not seen anywhere else in Wisconsin.

Cold weather and storms have also taken their toll. Just six of 11 chicks managed to fly last year.

Ten chicks have hatched so far this year. And they'll get bands soon to make it easier to keep tabs on them.

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