Cliff areas closed to protect nesting falcons

ADDISON COUNTY — Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a spring day, but the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont recommend people check to see if the area they’re planning to hike or climb is open. Several cliff areas — including four in Addison County — are currently closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.
“Peregrine nesting is well under way this spring,” said John Buck, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department biologist. “The falcons are very sensitive to human presence so we ask climbers and hikers to please avoid the nests with a respectful distance. The closures help people to choose an alternative route in advance.”
The following Addison County sites are closed: Deer Leap in Bristol, the Great Cliff overlook at Mt. Horrid in Goshen, the cliff top at Rattlesnake Point in Salisbury, and the overlook south of the pond on Snake Mountain in Addison.
 “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. We will update the closure list as more nesting data are reported.”
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department partners with Audubon Vermont to monitor the sites throughout the nesting season. These sites will remain closed until Aug. 1, but if a falcon pair doesn’t nest or if the nest is not successful, the sites will be reopened sooner.
According to Margaret Fowle with Audubon Vermont, 32 of the 37 territorial pairs monitored in 2013 attempted to nest. Twenty-one nesting pairs were successful, producing at least 50 young falcons. “The peregrine’s recovery is a great success story,” Fowle said. “The population continues to thrive thanks to the efforts of our many volunteers and partners.”
“We appreciate the public’s support in respecting the cliff closures,” Buck said. “The peregrine falcon was removed from the 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.”
Updated information on cliff closures can be found on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department website: www.vtfishandwildlife.com or by calling 802-828-1000. Report peregrine sightings by calling Vermont Fish & Wildlife or emailing [email protected].

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