WINGHAM, Ont. - A judge has sided with the birds.

The Municipality of South Bruce Peninsula has been convicted of two counts of endangering piping plover habitat.

The guilty verdict comes after 2017 beach maintenance at the north end of Sauble Beach.

The municipality said invasive plants needed to be removed, so they went in after the plovers had left for the winter and removed a large section of plants and debris.

The Ministry of Natural Resources did not agree, charging the municipality with endangering piping plover habitat twice in 2017.

The plovers, an endangered species of bird, returned to Sauble Beach in 2007, following a two decade absence.

In the end, a judge sided with the ministry, saying the municipality did what appears to be long-term damage to the beach and piping plover habitat.

South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson says the municipality plans to appeal the decision.

Sentencing is expected to handed down on Dec. 12. The ministry and municipality are currently working on a beach maintenance plan for Sauble Beach.

The sentence, which could be as high as $2 million in fines, could be impacted by whatever agreement the two levels of government come to regarding future beach maintenance.