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Northern Aplomado Falcons Released in New Mexico, August 3, 2006
Southwest Region, August 3, 2006
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On August 3, 2006, 11 young northern aplomado falcons (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) (falcon) were released from 2 towers on the 350,000-acre Armendaris Ranch near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  The falcons (an endangered species) were released when the doors of their “hack” boxes, which are enclosures on top of platform towers, were permanently opened, allowing the birds to come and go freely.  Biologists will provide food on the tower, and initially, the falcons will return each day to feed.  Soon, the falcons will begin chasing and catching prey on their own, and spending more and more time away from the hack site.  This process generally takes from 3 to 6 weeks, but can be extended to ensure a successful reintroduction.  The birds will be monitored daily by biologists.

Approximately 50 individuals traveled to the remote site to witness the falcon release.  Congressional representatives, Federal and State agency staff, and private individuals attended a brief ceremony prior to the release.  In addition, several attendees were interviewed for a video documentary of the release, including the Regional Director, who released falcons from one of the hack boxes, and the Aplomado Falcon Lead Biologist from the New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office.  The falcon reintroduction effort illustrates the power of cooperative conservation by private, local, State and Federal entities, including the Armendaris Ranch, owned by Ted Turner; Turner Endangered Species Fund; The Peregrine Fund, an Idaho-based nonprofit organization; New Mexico Department of Game and Fish; Arizona Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Land Management; Department of Defense; and the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

On July 26, 2006, the Service published a final rule in the Federal Register to reintroduce falcons into their historical habitat in southern New Mexico for the purpose of re-establishing a viable resident population in New Mexico and Arizona.  The falcon is being re-established under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and is classified as a nonessential experimental population (NEP).  The geographic boundary of the NEP includes all of New Mexico and Arizona.  The Federal Register notice also announced the availability of a monitoring plan that will assist the Service to evaluate the release program and provide guidelines for monitoring falcons in New Mexico and Arizona, and the availability of the final environmental assessment for this project.  These three documents are available on the Internet at:  http://www.fws.gov/ifw2es/NewMexico/.

The northern aplomado falcon is native to grassland habitats in Mexico, southern Texas and the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico and Arizona.  The species was listed as endangered by the Service in March 1986.  The recovery plan for this species lists reintroduction within the falcon’s historical range as a high priority task needed for recovery.  The northern aplomado falcon is currently found in Mexico, and is also being re-established through reintroduction programs in south and west Texas.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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