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Midwest Peregrine Falcon Recovery

Posted on behalf of Georgia Parham <Georgia_Parham@mail.fws.gov>

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region


Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Bldg.
1 Federal Drive, Ft. Snelling, MN 55111
Contact External Affairs:
Telephone (612) 713-5360
TDD (612) 713-5318
Fax: (612) 713-5280
E-mail: r3_pao@mail.fws.gov


For Immediate Release
August 25, 1998

Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x203
E-Mail: Georgia_Parham@mail.fws.gov


Today's announcement by Interior Secretary Bruce
Babbitt that peregrine falcons are rebounding and may be
taken off the endangered species list is a sign of the birds'
improving status across the country.  In Midwestern
states, this recovery has been remarkable -- the peregrine
was completely wiped out in the eastern United States.

Bringing peregrines back to the Midwest has been a labor
of cooperation, dedication, and passion to restore a
species nearly erased from existence.  Academic and
private groups joined with government agencies,
including state wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, to develop recovery strategies to stop
the precipitous decline of the peregrine and begin
rebuilding its populations.  Among those strategies were
elimination of DDT in the environment and reintroduction
of peregrines back into the wild, which, in some cases,
included large urban areas such as Chicago, Indianapolis,
and Minneapolis.

Midwestern peregrine numbers have rebounded from zero
in the 1970s to the following count of breeding pairs in

Illinois - 6
Indiana - 8
Iowa - 2
Michigan - 8
Minnesota - 22
Missouri - 3
Ohio - 11
Wisconsin - 12

Minnesota's Raptor Center Sets Stage for
Peregrine Recovery

Among the most noted facilitators of peregrine recovery
in the upper Midwest has been The Raptor Center at the
University of Minnesota.  The program, located at the
Gabbert Raptor Center facility on the St. Paul Campus of
the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, is dedicated to the
conservation of birds of prey through research,
rehabilitation, and education.  From 1981 through 1994,
the center facilitated the reintroduction of 700 peregrine
falcons in upper Midwestern states, boosting recovery
efforts throughout the region.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, The Raptor Center
served as a peregrine clearing house and brokerage,
matching available young peregrines with state wildlife
agencies trying to bolster peregrine populations through
reintroductions.  As the reintroduction program gained
success, the center became the region's leading facility in
training biologists in reintroduction techniques,
monitoring of nesting, banding young birds, and gathering
information on peregrines in the wild.  The center is also
among the nation's top facilities for treatment of injured
birds of prey, and is a pioneer in training personnel in
raptor rehabilitation.

Dr. Patrick Redig, co-founder and current director of the
Center, noted that the comeback of the peregrine has been
a remarkable success story.  +When we began
reintroducing birds in 1981, I never imagined we'd have
this much success in so short a time,' he said.  +It is an
accomplishment not only of The Raptor Center and state
and Federal agencies, but of those citizens who have
provided funding and support for peregrine and raptor
conservation over the years.  We can all be proud of this

The Raptor Center continues to be the leading
clearinghouse for data on peregrine falcon populations in
and around the Great Lakes.  Redig and colleague Bud
Tordoff of the Bell Museum of Natural History, also at
the University of Minnesota, have established an
extensive data record that allows them to track the genetic
make-up of nearly all the peregrines in the Midwest.  This
information is especially useful in monitoring the success
of reintroduction efforts and the ongoing status of the

Indiana's Peregrine Program - A State Success Story

The work of The Raptor Center can be seen in the
rebounding peregrine populations throughout the
Midwest.  Indiana, like all eastern states, had lost all of its
peregrines to effects of DDT and other threats.  Beginning
in 1991, Indiana launched an effort to establish nesting
pairs in the Hoosier state through reintroduction.
Working with The Raptor Center and the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, and funded by citizen contributions
through the state's non-game tax checkoff program, the
Indiana Department of Natural Resources introduced
peregrines in four cities, hoping that in time, peregrines
would re-establish themselves in Indiana.

Through 1994, a total of 60 young peregrines were
+hacked' or released atop buildings in Indianapolis, Fort
Wayne, South Bend, and Evansville.  As young birds
fledged, the hope was that some would return someday to
nest and raise young.  These reintroductions have paid
dividends: in 1995, three nesting pairs were counted and
the number has climbed to eight in 1998.

+Like other reintroduction programs, many of our birds
are dispersing to other states, and birds from other
programs are locating in Indiana.  It's the way it works,'
said John Castrale, the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources biologist who oversees Indiana's peregrine
recovery effort.  +We're pleased that this effort, supported
by Hoosiers who care about wildlife, is making a
difference with the nationwide recovery of the peregrine

Indiana's success is typical of efforts in other Midwestern
states.  For more information on peregrine falcons in the
Midwest, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's home
page at http://www.fws.gov or contact Georgia Parham,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 812-334-4261 x 203.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal
Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting,
and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the
continuing benefit of the American people.  The Service
manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System comprising more than 500 national wildlife
refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special
management areas.  It also operates 66 national fish
hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations.  The
agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird
populations, restores nationally significant fisheries,
conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands,
and helps foreign governments with their conservation
efforts.  It also oversees the Federal Aid program that
distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes
on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife