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Piping plover chick taken from Rhode Island beach dies

A 2017 file photo of a piping plover fledge at Duxbury Beach Park in Duxbury, MA.
A 2017 file photo of a piping plover fledge at Duxbury Beach Park in Duxbury, MA.Craig F. Walker

WESTERLY, R.I. — A piping plover chick taken by vacationers from a Rhode Island beach died at a wildlife center on Cape Cod, despite efforts to save it.

Piping plover are a protected species and removing the birds from the wild is illegal.

People from Massachusetts visiting a beach in Westerly, R.I., thought the bird was orphaned and took it home, the US Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement.

The chick’s health worsened and it was eventually transferred to the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, where it died, the agency said.

“While wild animals may appear to be ‘orphaned,’ they usually are not; parents are often waiting nearby for humans to leave,” the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

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The wildlife center posted photos of the chick last week on Facebook saying it was in critical condition and had, “a long road ahead.”

Piping plover were designated a protected species in 1986 under the Endangered Species Act. Piping plovers on the Atlantic coast are considered threatened, meaning the population would decline without ongoing protection, the Fish and Wildlife Service says on its website.