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The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that
various Delaware Bay beaches will be closed from May 14 to June 7 to
protect a rapidly declining population of migrating shorebirds. These
birds stop over each spring to feed on the fat-rich eggs of the
horseshoe crab.

To protect the migratory shorebirds, DEP Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell issued an emergency order in April 2003, which restricted the
horseshoe crab harvest. Beach closures were also implemented to
disturbance to feeding shorebirds allowing them ample feeding time to
gain the weight they need for a successful flight to their breeding
ground in the Arctic.

"We are taking action now, like limiting disturbance to feeding
shorebirds, to help prevent birds such as the state threatened Red
from becoming a federally endangered species in the future," said
Director Martin McHugh, DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife.

DEP staff will limit access at portions of specific beaches in the
Villas, Stone Harbor Point and Champagne Island, as well as portions
Fortescue Beach, Gandys Beach, High's Beach, Moores Beach, Reeds Beach,
Cook's Beach, Kimbles Beach, Norbury's Landing/Sunray Beach, Pierces
Point, High's Beach, Raybins Beach and Rutgers Cape Shore Lab beach.
These are important shorebird feeding areas and limiting access will
minimize human disturbance of the shorebirds while they feed.

The affected sections of beach in Lower, Middle and Downe townships
will be closed for 25 days. The beach restrictions coincide with the
and full moons, when horseshoe crab spawning and shorebird feeding are
at their peak.

The closed areas will be marked with printed signs and rope fencing
from the street end to the water's edge. DEP staff and volunteers
be present at most beaches to educate the public about the interaction
between the shorebirds and horseshoe crabs and the need to let the
feed undisturbed.

Maps indicating the closed areas are available on DEP's Division of
Fish and Wildlife Web site at:
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