Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a spring day, but the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont recommend you check to see if the area you’re planning to hike or climb is open. Several cliff areas are currently closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.
“Peregrine nesting is well underway this spring,” said John Buck, department biologist. “The falcons are very sensitive to human presence so we ask climbers and hikers to please maintain a respectful distance from all nests. These closures help people to choose an alternative route in advance.”
Vermont Fish & Wildlife partners with Audubon Vermont to monitor the sites throughout the nesting season. These sites will remain closed until Aug. 1 or until the department determines the risk to nesting falcons has passed. Additional sites may be added to the closed list if nesting falcons choose new sites.
Barnet Roadcut (Barnet) – Route 5 pullout closed
Bolton Notch “Upper Upper West” (Bolton) – cliff closed to climbing
Bone Mountain (Bolton) – areas of cliff closed to climbing
Deer Leap (Bristol) – cliff-top closed
Eagle Ledge (Vershire) – cliff closed
Fairlee Palisades (Fairlee) – cliff-top closed
Hazens Notch (Lowell) – cliff closed to climbing
Marshfield Mountain (Marshfield) – areas closed to climbing
Mount Horrid (Brandon) – Great Cliff overlook closed
Nichols Ledge (Woodbury) – cliff-top closed
Rattlesnake Point (Salisbury) – cliff-top closed
Snake Mountain (Addison) – area south of pond at top is closed
“The areas closed include the portions of the cliffs where the birds are nesting and the trails leading to the cliff tops or overlooks,” said Buck. “In many cases the lower portions of the trails are still open, and we encourage people to get out with good binoculars or a scope to enjoy watching the birds from a distance. We will update the closure list as more nesting data are reported.”
Last year saw a record nesting season for Vermont’s peregrine falcons, with more than 79 young birds successfully growing up and leaving the nest. “The peregrine’s recovery is a great success story,” said Margaret Fowle, Audubon Vermont conservation biologist. “The population continues to do well thanks to the efforts of our many volunteers and partners.”
“We appreciate the public’s support in respecting the cliff closures,” said Buck. “The peregrine falcon was removed from the state endangered species list in 2005 due in part to people respecting the falcon’s nesting period. Continued respect for the falcon will help ensure that peregrines remain part of Vermont’s landscape.”
What you can do to help Vermont peregrines
Respect cliff closures, and retreat from any cliff where you see peregrines.
Report any disturbance of nesting peregrines to your local game warden.
Report any sightings by calling Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department at 802-828-1000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated information on cliff closures is listed on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department website: vtfishandwildlife.com or by calling 802-828-1000.
Photo courtesy Steven Faccio, Vermont Center for Ecostudies
Hikers can help nesting peregrine falcons by avoiding 12 Vermont cliff areas this year.