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dberdinka

The rhyme and reason behind falcon closures?

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Hey. Happy Day!

 

I was looking for the thread on falcon closures that I believe Aid Turner started awhile back and couldn't find it so I thought I'd start a new one.

 

So Falcon closures are ubiquitous it seems across North America. This year Yosemite had it's first falcon closure ever, SCW got hit for the first time ever last year I believe, Zion has an incredibly broad set of closures that last from March through August.

 

I'm interested in understanding the policy or cultural basis that have resulted in such wide ranging closures. Anyone feel like contributing?

 

I know that Peregrines are no longer listed as an endangered or ever threatened species at the federal level. So I presume that closures are not the result of neccesary compliance with any federal laws. Is that correct? If so are the a result of meeting state or local laws? If no laws are involved what is the basis of instituting closures?

 

I'm also of the impression that each area in each agency seems to come up with their own management plan that can vary widely. For example the Chief closure is relatively small. If the Chief were in Zion the entire cliff would be shut down. Also some areas close cliffs preemptively based on "historical" nesting sites other areas seem to close cliffs only once peregrines are nesting.

 

Based on these wide differences is there any actual science behind the interaction of humans and peregrines that closures are developed off of?

 

Finally does anyone know of online access to peregrine/climbing management plans?

 

Thanks!

 

D

 

Access Fund Article on Raptor Closures

 

 

 

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Your questions are good, and I think everyone agrees that there is no sound guidelines for closures. Areas are closed "because" of falcons. I thought that the AF was going to have a real-life biologist study this problem

 

This year Yosemite had it's first falcon closure ever

 

This statement is wildly untrue. The SE face of El Cap has had seasonal closures from the Dawn Wall to the NA, starting about 1975

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Beacon Rock has a very strange closure surrounding it. They close the rock from Feb to July ever year but only to climbers. Hundreds of thousands of tourist can walk freely up the side within a couple of hundred feet from the nest and for some reason they are not a distraction to the birds. The Washington Fish and Wildlife are full of shit on this. Especially since the birds are not considered endangered anymore. Doesn’t that mean they are not longer “endangered of extinction”? So if they get bothered by humans they just move their nest?

 

Cue JH comeback 3…..2…..1

 

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"its a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart"

 

in addition to no longer being an endangered species, they are also a ubiqitious species throughout the world

 

wonder if they do closures for them in s america? asia?

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This statement is wildly untrue. The SE face of El Cap has had seasonal closures from the Dawn Wall to the NA, starting about 1975

 

My bad, apparently they had not nested on El Cap since 1994 and this was the first closure since then....

 

From some NPS release I googled...

 

"Peregrines have not nested on EI Capitan since 1994, when natural rockfall destroyed their historic nest site.

 

Effective April 9, 2010: El Capitan, Southeast Face - Closure includes all routes between and including "South Seas/Pacific Ocean Wall," "North American Wall," and east to "Native Son." Routes four pitches or less at the base of the Southeast Face of El Capitan remain open."

 

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A man was on trial for shooting and killing a bald eagle back when they were endangered. He explained that he was starving and needed to do it for food. The judge let him off with a warning and asked him after the trial what eagle tastes like. The man responded, "About the same as Whooping Crane and Spotted Owl".

 

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Killing raptors in fact illegal under some law passed in 1918, see the access fund report I referneced at the top.

 

Here is a response on the Taco written by a Yosemite climbing Ranger this year...

 

"As it says in the notice I posted, peregrines were de-listed in 1999 under the Endangered Species Act, and now are in a 15 year monitoring program. Neither the NPS nor myself have claimed that the species is still listed.

 

I appreciate your right to opinions that the peregrines are fine, and that although we only had 8 breeding pairs in the park last year (a record during our monitoring) it sounds like you are saying these birds are actually fully recovered and don't need any more protection. Fortunately the National Park Service doesn't agree. The NPS is charged with managing the park's resources not only for recreational values, but to protect all of the plants and animals within.

 

......

 

Some climbers ask me to close routes because swallows or other birds with really healthy populations are nesting in cracks. I just got back from J-tree, and they were closing routes with active nests of raptors that have never been listed. The superintendent of any park has the authority to close areas for resource protection regardless of whether or not a species has ESA status."

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Relax folks, that's a common joke. I've never eaten any raptors and wouldn't advocate that.

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they are still protected under the migratory bird treaty act that prohibits "take". the u.s. fish and wildlife service defines "take" as, among other things, "to pursue, hunt or kill". states are free to enforce more stringent laws. thus, arizona specifically includes actions that disrupt breeding within the definition of "take".

 

here is the thread you are looking for:

http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/959931/Re_Peregrine_chicks_out_at_the

 

 

if a peregrine stoops you, you'll know what it means.

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There's state statues protecting the bird as well. The Migratory Bird Act pertains to all migrating birds but is selectively enforced. Let's just say the chickadees are not as high on the list as peregines. Raptors, as top-end predators can be susceptible to any number of factors, but human disturbance can make them abandon their nest at critical times or affect the well-being of the nestlings.

 

After not having peregrines around for so long in suitable habitat the resource agencies are making efforts to place adequate human-use controls on disruptive activities - such as climbing near nests - to aid in their continued occupancy. Think about it - what other critter do they have to worry about getting near their nest?

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Your questions are good, and I think everyone agrees that there is no sound guidelines for closures. Areas are closed "because" of falcons. I thought that the AF was going to have a real-life biologist study this problem

 

Not everyone agrees, there are quite a few folks that went through the trouble of taking college and even (gasp) grad school seriously, never mind the expense and lack of recognition.

 

One thing to remember is that we spend billions on stealth and sports and squat on things like conservation, so not so fair to insult those who actually do what little work gets done.

 

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Your questions are good, and I think everyone agrees that there is no sound guidelines for closures. Areas are closed "because" of falcons. I thought that the AF was going to have a real-life biologist study this problem

 

Not everyone agrees, there are quite a few folks that went through the trouble of taking college and even (gasp) grad school seriously, never mind the expense and lack of recognition.

 

One thing to remember is that we spend billions on stealth and sports and squat on things like conservation, so not so fair to insult those who actually do what little work gets done.

 

Well, I'm sorry your delicate little feelings got hurt by mean old me, much less by society at large, which fails to recognize your work. What I was trying to say, which you cannot grasp between your self sorrowful gasps of pity, is that additional work is needed to understand the affect of climbers on raptors.

 

I apologize if you construed anything I said as an insult

 

Except this post

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Since you asked and I don't have time to read the above links, but as a biologist who is responsible for conserving migratory birds.

 

1. Yes, they are Federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under that Act all take is prohibited unless authorized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Take under MBTA does not include disturbance like the Endangered Species Act. However, removal of active nests or young is defined as take.

 

2. Each Land Management Agency can establish it's own rules, regulations and policies to protect nesting peregrines, active nests and young. There are no standard guidelines on how far from a nest climbing can occur without disturbing the birds. No agency wants to see the peregrine re-listed and be the cause of that action. So they all adopt whatever distance seems appropriate for that local circumstance.

 

3. Peregrines are increasing or stable in most of the West. But they require pretty specific conditions to successfully nest. Giving up a little cliff space for successful pairs seems like a reasonable thing to ask from climbers.

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Since you asked and I don't have time to read the above links, but as a biologist who is responsible for conserving migratory birds.

 

1. Yes, they are Federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under that Act all take is prohibited unless authorized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Take under MBTA does not include disturbance like the Endangered Species Act. However, removal of active nests or young is defined as take.

 

2. Each Land Management Agency can establish it's own rules, regulations and policies to protect nesting peregrines, active nests and young. There are no standard guidelines on how far from a nest climbing can occur without disturbing the birds. No agency wants to see the peregrine re-listed and be the cause of that action. So they all adopt whatever distance seems appropriate for that local circumstance.

 

3. Peregrines are increasing or stable in most of the West. But they require pretty specific conditions to successfully nest. Giving up a little cliff space for successful pairs seems like a reasonable thing to ask from climbers.

 

:tup::tup: Thank you!

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...we only had 8 breeding pairs in the park last year (a record during our monitoring)...

What park?

 

I'm also of the impression that each area in each agency seems to come up with their own management plan that can vary widely. For example the Chief closure is relatively small. If the Chief were in Zion the entire cliff would be shut down. Also some areas close cliffs preemptively based on "historical" nesting sites other areas seem to close cliffs only once peregrines are nesting.

State and federal closures are fairly consistent in the length of closures, but the size of closures do vary widely based on the resources available, if any, for monitoring. Where there are few of no resouces closures will likely be longer and wider in coverage than in areas with dedicated monitoring resources. Seems to me that Federal closures overall are quite often more wider and rigid than state ones, particularly in western states.

 

...is that additional work is needed to understand the affect of climbers on raptors.

I think you'll find climbers are the only ones who think "additional work is needed to understand the affect of climbers on raptors". Raptor biologists and policy makers don't feel that way at all from what I can tell. About the only thing that might change the current situation is the results of the 15year monitoring program in a couple of years.

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Since you asked and I don't have time to read the above links, but as a biologist who is responsible for conserving migratory birds.

 

3. Peregrines are increasing or stable in most of the West. But they require pretty specific conditions to successfully nest. Giving up a little cliff space for successful pairs seems like a reasonable thing to ask from climbers.

 

Thanks for all the serious responses. I would like to believe that a vast majority of climbers agree with the the above statement, I included. Hence the reason closures seem near universally observed in places like Squamish and Yosemite. My interest in more quantifiable information is based on the long and extensive closures that Zion NP puts into effect every year. For example the entire East Temple, a 2+ mile wide enscarpment is closed to climbing.

 

My google searching came up with plenty of articles regarding human disturbance of raptors. Here's a quote from an article entitled "Recommendations for protecting raptors from human disturbance: a review" regarding buffer zones for Peregrine Falcons.

 

"The median distance recommended buffer zones are as follows...peregrine falcon = 800m (50m - 1600m)"

 

When estimations of buffers differ by a factor of x32 I don't think it's unreasonable to presume the scientists are making wild ass guesses which is unfortunate considering their supposed profession.

 

After 30 years of carefully documented climbing closures for Peregrine breeding all over North America I wonder if there aren't sufficent data points to correlate breeding success to the size of the closure. Just a thought.

 

 

 

 

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Giving up a little cliff space for successful pairs seems like a reasonable thing to ask from climbers.

 

Is it too much to ask from hikers as well?

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After 30 years of carefully documented climbing closures for Peregrine breeding all over North America I wonder if there aren't sufficent data points to correlate breeding success to the size of the closure. Just a thought.

I doubt you'll find closures were 'carefully documented' except in areas where there was active monitoring resources which is likely a small percentage of closures. Given all the closures were of at least some minimum size (say 300m), I don't suspect you'd find much in the data other than overall closures work.

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Giving up a little cliff space for successful pairs seems like a reasonable thing to ask from climbers.

Is it too much to ask from hikers as well?

You got your wish. The Cape Horn trail near The Far Side (you know the Far Side don't ya:-) was closed this year (by Dave Anderson, Washington Fish and Wildlife). Congrats! You got your request fulfilled.

 

BTW -the locals who put in that "unauthorized" trail when they just showed up and stuck in it without permission or asking anyone as I understand it, have recently done some Forest service co-operate trail maintenance work on it. Interesting to see it evolve. It's a great spot for a trail and it's nice to see the FS get on board and helping everyone instead of closing it and arresting trespassers or whatever the alternative would be. Especially when that woman or couple fell off the cliffs @2-3 years ago and got SAR'ed out in a bag. BTW, if you want to check out 2 pretty nice (I believe) unclimbed pinnacles, let me know.

 

Trail info and story here and here: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/cape-horn

 

Be careful if you take your little kids there as there is a huge assed drop right next to the cliff at one point.

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