Local News

National forest closes local cliffs for peregrine nesting 

Two prominent cliff sites in the Green Mountain National Forest are once again temporarily closed to protect critical nesting habitat for peregrine falcons. 

As of March 15, the Rattlesnake Cliff Area (Salisbury) and the Mount Horrid/Great Cliff Area (Rochester) are closed until Aug. 1.

The falcons are already migrating back to Vermont to their nesting sites, and the closure of these areas as well as cliff access trails prevents disturbance to the falcons while they nest and raise their young.   

Trail and habitat monitoring in 2022 determined that human activities continued to disturb nesting sites during the closure periods. This disruption can cause the falcons to abandon their nests or interrupt the care of their young. 

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.

Peregrine falcon populations suffered declines due to the use of DDT in the 1940s but have rebounded since their reintroduction in the 1980s. While peregrines are now considered a recovered species in Vermont, it is critical to minimize human disturbance so that recovery continues. 

Across Vermont, last year 29 nesting pairs produced 63 young that fledged from their cliff nests although the number of nesting pairs was lower in 2022 than in some recent years.

The U.S. Forest Service, Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and other non-profit organizations collaborate to protect peregrine falcons.  

For more information visit: fpr.vermont.gov. To report a harassment of nesting peregrine falcons call: 1-800-75ALERT.

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