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Contact: Nancy Stimson, Public Information Officer, 307-467-5283
Devils Tower National Monument has temporarily closed climbing routes along the northeast face of Devils Tower beginning April 26th in order to protect Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) possible nesting sites. This closure is an annual event established under the monument's 1995 Climbing Management Plan with authority from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. On the northeast face, routes between and including "Belle Fourche Buttress" and "Maid in the Shaid" (routes #68 to #93), as well as the "North Face" rappel route, will be closed. All pitches terminating at the "Teacher's Lounge" will remain open.
NPS resource managers will continue to survey the closed area to determine the presence or absence of nesting prairie falcons. Climbing routes without nesting falcons will be reopened by May 15th. Areas with falcon nests will remain closed until young falcons fledge, generally between July 15 and August 1. Closure areas may be change based on the location of nesting pairs.
"Prairie falcons are extremely defensive of their nests and are easily driven from the area. The presence of climbers near or above falcon nests is distressing to parent birds. Too much disturbance from climbing activities may force falcons to abandon eggs or chicks. The closure is implemented not only for the protection of the birds, but also for the protection of climbers, as prairie falcons are known to defensively dive in order to protect their nests." said Angela Wetz, the monument's chief of resource management.
Previous observations suggest prairie falcons use the Tower with an affinity for the west and northeast faces, where pairs nested from 2005 to 2007, and 2010. In 2008, falcons were observed nesting on the south face of the Tower. In recent years, young falcons were observed to have fledged from nests on the Tower in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2006, and 2007. In 2009 and 2011, the falcons nested and fledged away from the Tower.
Separate from the falcon closure, Devils Tower National Monument has a voluntary climbing closure in effect for the month of June, out of respect for American Indian cultural traditions.
To learn more about the climbing closures contact a park ranger at 307-467-5283, visit us online at www.nps.gov/deto or on Facebook as Devils-Tower-National-Monument-Official-NPS-Site.
Devils Tower National Monument is located, 33 miles northeast of Moorcroft, WY, 27 miles northwest of Sundance, WY via U.S. 14, 9 Miles south of Hulett via WY24, and 52 miles southwest of Belle Fourche, S.D. via S.D. Highway34/WY24.