BERLIN, Md. (AP) — The National Park Service says it is temporarily closing part of Assateague Island in Maryland to protect nesting piping plovers.

The park service says the small, migratory shorebirds are easily disturbed by humans and will leave their nests and feeding areas if approached. The birds nest on open, sandy beaches and their breeding season runs from April through mid-August.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the birds as threatened with extinction. The park service says the coastal island is their only nesting site in Maryland and one of the densest breeding areas in the region.

The park service says the closed area includes the vehicle route south of kilometer marker 18.0. The closure began Friday and will remain in effect for up to four weeks.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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