Forest service to temporarily close cliffs for peregrine falcon nesting

Forest Service officials in Vermont will continue with seasonal closures at two prominent cliff sites on the Green Mountain National Forest’s Rochester and Middlebury Ranger Districts. These areas will be temporarily closed in order to prevent disturbance to critical nesting habitat. Peregrine falcon populations suffered declines due to the use of DDT in the 1940s but have rebounded since their reintroduction in the 1980s. Even though peregrines are now considered a recovered species in Vermont, it is critical to minimize human disturbance to nest sites so that the species’ recovery continues. Falcons can already be seen at many nesting sites throughout Vermont. 2018 was another good year for the species; 55 pairs were observed, of which 35 were successful, producing 68 fledglings.

Each spring, the Forest Service closes the Rattlesnake Cliff Area (Salisbury) and the Mount Horrid /Great Cliff Area (Rochester) from March 15 – Aug. 1. Information regarding the specific locations for the closure areas is available at Forest Service offices. Forest Service employees post signs to alert the public to let them know trails to the cliff overlooks are closed. Disturbance of peregrine falcons and/or these nesting grounds is a violation of federal law and may result in a fine up to $5,000 and 6 months in jail. Please report any harassment of nesting peregrine falcons to 1-800-75ALERT.

The Forest Service works with Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other non-profit organizations to protect peregrine falcons.

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