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Mountain tops closed for peregrine falcons

HIKERS AND CLIMBERS in Addison County and across the state can help nesting peregrine falcons by avoiding several Vermont cliff areas this spring and early summer.

ADDISON COUNTY — Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a spring day, but the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont recommend people check to see if the area they are planning to hike or climb is open. Several cliff areas are closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons. Likewise many trails are closed to limit the spread of the Coronavirus and reduce impacts during mud season,
“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 all nests,” said state wildlife biologist Doug Morin.  “The areas closed include the portions of the cliffs where the birds are nesting and the trails leading to cliff tops or overlooks.”
Biologists and community scientists are just now identifying which cliffs are occupied by peregrines, and not all sites have been visited to-date. Once closed, these sites will remain closed until Aug. 1 or until the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department determines the risk to nesting falcons has passed. As sites are visited in April and if nesting falcons choose new sites, additional sites may be added to the closed list at vtfishandwildlife.com.
Confirmed closings in Addison County and nearby towns include:
•  Deer Leap (Bristol) — cliff-top and climbing closed
•  Mt. Horrid (Rochester) — Great Cliff overlook closed
•  Rattlesnake Point (Salisbury) — southern overlook closed
Snake Mt. (Addison) — entire western trail 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 with binoculars or a 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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