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From:     NEWS@fws.gov AT FWS
Date:     10/08/99 01:03 PM
To:       fws-news@www.fws.gov AT FWS

October 4, 1999                      Chris Tollefson 202-208-5634


Taking steps to assure the continued protection of peregrine falcons (F.
peregrinus) in the wake of the falcon's flight off the endangered species
list last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it
will prepare two peregrine falcon management plans.  The joint
State/Federal plan will govern the capture and use of wild peregrine
falcons in the United States, to ensure that recovery achieved under the
Endangered Species Act is maintained, while providing falconers the
opportunities they deserve.

"The delisting of the peregrine falcon is a testament to the Endangered
Species Act and to years of effort by the biologists, conservationists,
citizens and faloners who have made it work. We want to ensure that their
hard work endures by setting management strategies that sustain peregrine
falcons and keep them from returning to the endangered species list," said
Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark.

The August 25 delisting decision had the effect of allowing take of wild
peregrines for falconry, raptor propagation, scientific collecting, and
other purposes permissible under Migratory Bird Treaty Act regulations.
However, the Service has continued the prohibition on take of wild
peregrines except in very limited circumstances.  The prohibition will
remain in place until management plans governing take of peregrines from
the wild are completed.

"Falconers played an important role in the recovery of this magnificent
bird, and the Service supports the capture of falcons for falconry and
other legitimate purposes.  But we must take great care to evaluate the
effects of these captures on population levels to make certain we don't
erase the gains of the past three decades," Clark said.

Migrant juvenile peregrines were captured by falconers along the Atlantic
coast barrier islands annually for many years prior to 1970, and migrants
and nestlings were captured less regularly elsewhere in the United States.
Falconers in many States would like to see this traditional use of
peregrines resume now that peregrines have met recovery goals.  Although
captive bred peregrines have been available for falconry since 1983, wild
peregrines have not been available due to ESA restrictions, except in
Alaska under certain circumstances.

In 1970, the Service listed the American peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus
anatum) as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of
1969, the predecessor of the current law.  The peregrine population in the
eastern United States had completely disappeared, and populations in the
west had declined by as much as 80 to 90 percent below historical levels.

By 1975, the population reached an all-time low of 324 nesting pairs in
North America.  The related arctic peregrine (Falco peregrinus tundrius)
also was listed as endangered, but was delisted in 1994.

The banning of DDT made the recovery of the peregrine falcon possible.  But
the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act and the
extraordinary partnership efforts of the Service and state wildlife
agencies, universities, private
ornithological groups, and falcon enthusiasts accelerated
the pace of recovery through captive breeding programs,
reintroduction efforts and the protection of nest sites
during the breeding season.  Similar efforts took place in Canada, where
the Canadian Wildlife Service and provincial
agencies took the lead in a major captive breeding
and reintroduction program.  Currently, there are at least 1,650 American
peregrine breeding pairs in the United States and Canada, well above the
overall recovery goal of 631 pairs. Arctic peregrines are even more

One management plan will address the take of peregrine falcon nestlings in
the United States.  The other will address the take of immature peregrines
that originate in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, and migrate through the
contiguous United States. The plans will be developed cooperatively by the
Service and the States.  The plan for migrant birds also will require
cooperation with the governments of Canada, Greenland, and Mexico.

Once the plans are completed, the States will be responsible for managing
the species within the framework of the plans.
The Service's intent is that these management plans will apply only until
the Service and the States agree that special
management is
no longer warranted.

The management plans will provide overall guidance for take of peregrines,
including biological criteria for take of
implementation criteria, and procedures for evaluating and adjusting the
take.  Within the framework provided by each
State wildlife agencies will be responsible for decisions about take of

The Service has established tentative objectives for the
plans that include:

     -Protecting nestling and dispersing juvenile peregrines originating
     from breeding areas in eastern Canada and the United States.

     -Allowing a conservative and sustainable level of take of migrant
     juvenile peregrines originating from the Alaskan
     Canadian arctic and Greenland.

     -Allowing a conservative and sustainable level of take of nestling
     peregrines from healthy populations in the
     United States and Alaska.

The environmental assessments will likely include several alternatives,
permitting varying numbers of juvenile peregrines to be captured from
particular management groups. Potential alternatives in the environmental
assessment may include continued prohibitions on take, take of 5 percent of
the annual production of a particular management group, 10 percent of the
annual production of a management group, or no restrictions on take beyond
the existing falconry regulations.

Additional alternatives may be identified during the public review that
begins with today's publication in the Federal Register of a Notice of
Intent to prepare two environmental assessments and two management plans.
Further public review
be sought once the plans and assessments are drafted.

Public suggestions for the management plans are requested by November 12,
1999.  Written comments may be submitted to the Chief, Office of Migratory
Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive,
Room 634,
Virginia 22203.  Comments may also be sent via fax to 703-358-2272.  For
further information, contact the Office of Migratory Bird Management at

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people.  The Service manages the 93- million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of
and other special management areas.  It also operates 66
fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices 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
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 fish and wildlife agencies.


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