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Contact: David Manski, (207) 288-8720
Contact: Bruce Connery, (207) 288-8726
The cliffs at Beech and Valley Cove were opened on Friday, August 4, 2006 at Acadia National Park, Superintendent Sheridan Steele announced today. The peregrine falcons that had occupied these sites since March are no longer dependent on these cliffs. The cliffs and the Northern Section of the Flying Mountain Trail were closed in March to support ongoing recovery efforts for the peregrine falcon in Maine, which is listed as an Endangered Species under the Maine Endangered Species Act.
The fledglings at Beech Cliff have become less dependent on the cliff and their parents over the last few weeks. Research has shown that nesting falcons are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance originating immediately above the nesting area or directed at the nest site. Continued disturbances can lead to chick mortality or complete nest failure, which further slows the recovery of the species in Maine. The closures of the trails during the nesting season has proven to be successful with more than 50 chicks fledging from the Precipice over the last 15 years and nearly 80 chicks from all cliffs within Acadia National Park. Biologists within Region 5 of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, of which Acadia National Park is located, who have been working on the recovery of the falcons in the Northeast, have been opening nesting areas on cliffs approximately five weeks after the last chick has fledged from the nest. This determination about opening closed areas is based on research results that found that fledglings were less dependent on the adults or their natal cliff area at or just after five weeks of being able to fly. Although the falcons, both adults and juveniles, are expected to stay in the vicinity of the Beech Cliff and are likely to be observed by hikers and climbers, hiking and climbing activity is not expected to create disturbances that will harm the birds.
The park biologist has determined that the adult peregrine falcons that nested on the cliff at Valley Cove have failed in their nesting attempt for 2006. Park staff working with the park biologist were unable to confirm that chicks hatched and the behavior exhibited by the adults has suggested they were unsuccessful. No reasons were been identified for the failure.
Additional information about the peregrine recovery program is available at the park’s visitor center and headquarters. All park closures pertaining to nesting birds on MDI have been rescinded. However active eagle territories within the park’s legislative boundary remain closed through the end of August.