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Watch for falcon nests while hiking

MONTPELIER — Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a spring day, but the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont recommend that hikers check to see if the area they plan 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, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department biologist. “The falcons are very sensitive to human presence so we ask climbers and hikers to please avoid the nest sites with a respectful distance. The closures help people to choose an alternative route in advance.”
In Addison County, Deer Leap in Bristol, Mt. Horrid Great Cliff overlook in Goshen, Snake Mountain overlook in Addison and Rattlesnake Point cliff top in Salisbury have been closed for the nesting season.
For those planning to hike outside the county, eight other cliffside and cliff top sites are closed: Barnet Roadcut, Bolton Notch upper west cliff, Bone Mountain, Eagle Ledge, Fairlee Palisades, Hazens Notch, Marshfield Mountain, and Nichols Ledge.
“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. “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 August 1, but if a falcon pair doesn’t nest or if the nest is not successful, the sites will be reopened sooner.
Last year was a respectable nesting season for Vermont’s peregrine falcons, with more than 51 pairs successfully producing at least 63 young birds.
 “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 community scientists 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.”
You can report peregrine sightings by calling Vermont Fish & Wildlife or emailing [email protected].

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