*Text taken from the online "Draft
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact
Statement," dated April 2004, of the Petit Manan
National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
This 300-acre island is located seven miles offshore, in the
Town of Matinicus Isle Plantation, Knox County. The Service
owns approximately 149 acres on the north end of the island,
acquired in parcels between May 1994 and August 1996. Private
landowners currently own about 120 sheep that graze the entire
Approximately 119 acres of Service-owned property is dominated
by various grass and forb species and shrubs. The most common
species are chickweed, sheep sorrel, raspberry, and bayberry.
Fencing placed around vegetation plots indicates that grazing
is significantly altering the species composition and height
of the vegetation on the island. For example, Kentucky bluegrass,
redtop, and sweet vernal grass are common in fenced areas,
while these species are uncommon in grazed areas. Another 30
acres of Service-owned land in the center of the island is
dominated by red spruce and balsam fir.
Several hundred pairs of terns, including a small number of
roseate terns, nested on Metinic Island in the 1980's. The
decline of the Metinic colony coincided with the initiation
of predator control efforts on Seal Island. We believe the
Metinic Island birds moved over to take advantage of the gull-free
island. Arctic and common terns have continued to nest on the
south end of the island on private land; however, due to the
presence of nesting gulls, the colony produces very few chicks.
The Service initiated a tern restoration project on the north
end of the island in 1998. Decades of sheep grazing had significantly
reduced the vegetation, limiting available nesting habitat
for the terns. A five-acre "peninsula" was fenced to allow
the vegetation to recover and provide some shelter for the
terns. Gull harassment and nest removal are utilized on the
northern peninsula of the island in an effort to minimize predation
on the terns.
Although terns landed among the decoys and sound system, no
nesting occurred within the fenced area during the first year
of the social attraction efforts. However, in 1999, one pair
of common terns and two pairs of Arctic terns nested adjacent
to the decoy area. Later in the season, an additional nine
pairs of terns nested near the decoy area. The colony has continued
to grow and in 2002, 139 pairs of common tern and 112 pairs
of Arctic tern nested on the north end of the island. In addition,
15 pairs of terns nested on private land on the southern end
of the island. Unfortunately, we believe gull predation continues
to significantly limit the productivity of the birds nesting
at the southern end of the island. Black guillemot, common
eider, herring gull, great black-backed gull nest on Metinic
Island. Leach's storm-petrel also nests on the island, but
because of their nocturnal nature, we do not have an accurate
count on this island. Table 3-18 presents nesting seabirds
known on the island.
Biological technicians are hired seasonally to work on the
tern restoration program. The interns census terns, control
predators, conduct food habit and productivity studies, and
monitor vegetation response to grazing.
The refuge portion of Metinic Island is closed to public use
during the seabird nesting season: April 1 to August 31. Informational
signs alerting visitors to this closure are in place.