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Cliff tops closed to protect bird nests

MONTPELIER — 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 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 maintain a respectful distance from all nests. These closures help people to choose an alternative route in advance.”
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 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.
The closures affect the following trails: Barnet Roadcut, Barnet, Route 5 pullout closed; Bolton Notch in Bolton, upper west cliff closed to climbing; Bone Mountain in Bolton, portions of cliff closed to climbing; Deer Leap in Bristol, closed; Fairlee Palisades in Fairlee, cliff top closed; Hazens Notch in Lowell, cliff closed to climbing; Marshfield Mountain in Marshfield; portions closed to climbing; Mt. Horrid in Goshen, Great Cliff overlook closed; Nichols Ledge in Woodbury, cliff top closed; Rattlesnake Point in Salisbury, cliff top closed; Snake Mountain in Addison, overlook south of pond closed; and Table Mountain in Manchester, 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 67 young birds successfully growing up and leaving the nest. “The peregrine’s recovery is a great success story,” said Fowle. “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 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 at 802-828-1000 or emailingfwinformation@state.vt.us.
Updated information on cliff closures is listed on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department website: www.vtfishandwildlife.com or by calling 802-828-1000.

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