HAMPTON — If you’re heading to the beach to beat the heat, wildlife officials are urging you to watch for endangered piping plovers raising their young.

The state’s Fish and Game Department reports that several groups of chicks are present on Hampton and Seabrook beaches and three additional nests should be hatching in July.

Piping plovers are endangered in New Hampshire and threatened nationally. Their breeding habitat is fenced with yellow roping to indicate the birds’ presence to beachgoers, and to allow the mating pairs space to nest and raise their young.

“Our goal is to protect these rare birds during their breeding season and manage the beaches for both people and wildlife,” said Brendan Clifford, a biologist with the Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program who oversees the piping plover protection effort. “It becomes a challenge for the unfledged chicks toward the end of June and into July as beaches become more crowded.”

Within just a few hours of hatching, piping plover chicks are able to walk and feed on their own. The first few weeks after hatching are the most crucial because the chicks are very small, hard to see, and extremely vulnerable to natural predators such as gulls, crows, foxes, and domestic animals, including cats and dogs.

“Once the chicks are 25 to 30 days old, they can fly to escape from danger so we can take down the fences and open up the beach for full recreational use,” explained Clifford.

Clifford said humans can represent a major threat to the endangered birds. The chicks are not restricted to the fenced-off areas around the dunes, and the adults will often move them up and down the beach to good feeding areas, often close to the tide line. The buff-colored chicks are hard to see, so it is easy to unknowingly cause distress or even step on the chicks. Fish and Game plover monitors and volunteers regularly notify beachgoers where chicks are present, in an effort to reduce disturbance and allow them to feed.

N.H. Fish and Game is working closely again this year with beach managers to coordinate beach raking and plover protection. Because plover chicks cannot fly and tend to squat when they feel threatened, vehicles on the beach are a major threat to their survival. Beach maintenance may occur in areas where chicks are not present, as long as it is coordinated in advance with N.H. Fish and Game.

Protection of this endangered species is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the N.H. Fish and Game Department, the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation, the town of Seabrook, the town of Hampton, volunteers, local residents, and beach visitors.

Information: wildnh.com/nongame/project-plover.html.