Local News

Area cliff tops and overlooks closed to protect nesting peregrines

Courtesy VTF&W
Hikers and climbers can help nesting peregrine falcons by avoiding several Vermont cliff areas this spring and early summer. 

 

Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a spring day, but the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Dept. and Audubon Vermont recommend people check to see if the area they are planning to hike or climb is open. In addition to trail closures to reduce impacts during mud season, several cliff areas are also closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.

“Peregrine falcons are very sensitive to human presence during their breeding season, so we ask climbers and hikers to please maintain a respectful distance from their nests,” said nongame bird biologist Jillian Kilborn with Fish & Wildlife. “The areas closed include the portions of the cliffs where the birds are nesting and the trails leading to cliff tops or overlooks.”

Over the next couple of months, biologists and community scientists will be identifying cliffs occupied by peregrines this year. Sites listed will remain closed until Aug. 1 or until Fish & Wildlife determines the risk to nesting falcons has passed. The majority of the sites are visited in April, and nesting falcons can choose new sites, so additional sites may be added or removed from the closed list which will be updated and provided on Fish & Wildlife’s website.

 Locally, areas include:

Mt. Horrid (Rochester) – Great Cliff overlook closed

Rattlesnake Point (Salisbury) – southern overlook closed 

Audubon Vermont conservation biologist Margaret Fowle works with volunteers and other conservation professionals to monitor the sites throughout the nesting season.

“Peregrine falcons were removed from Vermont’s endangered species list in 2005, and the population continues to thrive thanks to the efforts of our many volunteers and partners,” said Fowle. “In many cases the lower portions of the trails remain open, and we encourage people to enjoy watching peregrine falcons from a distance that requires using binoculars or a spotting scope.” 

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 state game warden

Report any sightings to Margaret Fowle at margaret.fowle@audubon.org

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