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GLIN==> World’s Fastest Bird Continues to Rebound: Monitoring shows a healthy and growing peregrine population across North America



Contact: Joan Jewett (503) 231-6211


When the American peregrine falcon soared off the list of endangered
species in 1999, the bird’s recovery from near extinction in North America
was hailed as a tremendous conservation success story. This week,  the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service released monitoring results showing that the
bird’s recovery continues at an impressive pace.

 The results from the first nationwide monitoring effort to measure the
peregrine falcon’s recovery put the number of nesting pairs in North
America at about 3,000 – nearly 10 times the number estimated in 1970 when
the bird was first protected as an endangered species and considerably more
than the roughly 1,800 breeding pairs estimated in 1999, when the peregrine
was declared recovered and was de-listed.

 “This incredible bird continues to thrive,” said Interior Secretary Dirk
Kempthorne. “We’ve been amazed at the peregrine’s ability to adapt,
especially to urban situations where they nest on buildings, bridges and
even smokestacks.”

In the Northeast and Mid-west, two-thirds of peregrine falcons nest on
man-made structures. In other areas, more than 90 percent of peregrine
pairs nest on natural formations such as cliffs.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall credited the recovery of
the peregrine to the ban on the use of the pesticide DDT, protections
afforded by the Endangered Species Act, and the extraordinary partnership
efforts of the Service and state wildlife agencies, universities, private
organizations and falcon enthusiasts. These partnerships greatly
accelerated the pace of recovery through captive breeding programs,
reintroduction efforts and the protection of nest sites during the breeding
season. Simultaneous efforts also took place in Canada.

Like the recovery effort, the successful monitoring program is also the
result of partnerships. In 2003, the first year of post-delisting
monitoring, more than 300 observers - many representatives from the same
partners who supported the recovery effort - monitored 438 peregrine falcon
territories across six regions. Surveyed areas included the Northeast/Great
Lakes, Southeast, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Pacific and Alaska.

“This monitoring effort was unprecedented and would not have been possible
without the help of partners across the nation who provided invaluable time
and expertise,” Director Hall said. “I thank them all.”  Peregrine falcons
are found in 41 of the 50 U.S. states. They do not breed in Alabama,
Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota
or West Virginia.

A second round of post-delisting monitoring was done this year, and
preliminary results indicate that the peregrine population continues to
grow. Final results and analyses from 2006 will be published in a report in
the summer of 2007.  Monitoring will continue in 2009, 2012 and 2015, and
monitoring of contaminant levels in eggs and feathers will be reported in
the future as well.

The Endangered Species Act requires five years of monitoring for species
removed from the list of endangered and threatened species to ensure that
populations remain strong. The Service decided to monitor the peregrine
falcon five times over a span of 13 years in order to provide data
reflecting the status of peregrines over three or four generations.
Peregrines begin breeding at about age 3.

A medium-size raptor, the peregrine falcon nests on tall cliffs and urban
skyscrapers and hunts other birds for food, reaching speeds of 200 miles an
hour as they dive after prey. The bird’s remarkable speed and agility,
however, could not prevent its sharp decline after World War II, when
widespread use of the pesticide DDT and other organochlorine pesticides
decimated populations. The pesticide DDT caused peregrines to lay
thin-shelled eggs that broke during incubation.

By the late 1960s, the American peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum)
had disappeared completely from the eastern United States and the Midwest,
and its numbers had dropped by almost 90 percent in the western United
States, Canada, and Mexico. One of the first species to be listed by the
U.S. government for protection, the peregrine historically ranged
throughout much of North America from the sub-arctic boreal forests of
Alaska and Canada south to Mexico.

During the recovery effort, more than 6,000 peregrine falcons were released
into the wild by government and private raptor specialists. Some of the
reintroductions took place in urban areas after researchers discovered that
the falcons can successfully adapt to nesting on skyscrapers and other
urban structures where they hunt abundant pigeons and starlings.

A copy of the peregrine falcon post-delisting monitoring plan and the
results of the 2003 monitoring effort are available at
http://www.fws.gov/endangered/i/B22_051506.html . Hard-copy versions are
available by contacting Michael Green, Coordinator, Peregrine Falcon
Delisting Monitoring, 503-231-6164, or Michael_Green@fws.gov.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national
fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 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 and Native American tribal governments
with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance
program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes
on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

(For Peregrine Monitoring Results Q&A's, go to
http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2006/PeregrineMonitoringResultsFQA100506.pdf

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