December 3, 2003
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today issued its monitoring plan for the American peregrine falcon in the continental United States. The bird was removed from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species in 1999, and the monitoring plan is designed to make sure that American peregrine falcons continue to thrive without the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
“This is the first nationwide monitoring plan for a recovered, delisted species,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams. “We’ve relied on our state and private partners for monitoring data and we’ll continue to work closely with them to put this formal plan to work.”
The monitoring plan was developed in compliance with The Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Act requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor species recovered and removed from the endangered species list “...in cooperation with States...” and “...for not less than five years.” In order to fulfill this requirement, the Service developed this plan in cooperation with State resource agencies, representatives from each Fish and Wildlife Service Region, the Divisions of Migratory Birds, Endangered Species, and other cooperators. Should monitoring reveal that American peregrine falcon is likely to become endangered, the species could be listed again under the Act.
A Notice of Availability of the post-delisting monitoring plan was published in today’s Federal Register and can be downloaded at http://migratorybirds.fws.gov or http://endangered.fws.gov. A copy of the Federal Register Notice can be found at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/peregrine
The Service released a draft monitoring plan for the American peregrine falcon in 2001, which was accompanied by public comment periods in July 2001 and September 2001. It received additional review by states and cooperators in December 2002 and January 2003.
The final monitoring plan designates six geographical survey regions in 40 states where American peregrine falcons breed, and it calls for nests to be monitored five times at three year intervals. Monitoring began this year and will end in 2015. The plan calls for counting the number of American peregrine falcons returning to nesting sites, determining whether they nest successfully, and counting the number of young produced.
In level flight, the normal speed for peregrine falcons is about 40 to 55 miles per hour. In a steep dive they can attain speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour as they attack their prey. The peregrine falcon was nearly extirpated in most of North America after World War II. The cause of the bird’s decline was accumulation of organochlorine pesticides such as DDT in bird’s tissues, which resulted eggshell thinning and breakage during incubation. The pesticide DDT was banned in Canada in 1970 and in the United States in 1972. As a result of the ban, eggshell thinning subsided. When peregrines were reintroduced across the nation, their populations rebounded to the point where they no longer required Endangered Species Act protection. Although pesticides such as DDT are still used in Latin American countries where peregrines migrate in winter, their use is gradually being curtailed through international efforts.
In 1970, the Service listed the peregrine falcon as endangered under
the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969, the precursor of the
Endangered Species Act. At the time, the American peregrine falcon population
in the eastern United States had completely disappeared and populations
in the West had declined to as much as 90 percent below historic levels.
By 1975, the population reached an all-time low of 324 nesting pairs
in North America. Today, there are more than 2,000 nesting pairs in
the United States, more than 400 pairs in Canada, and an estimated 170
pairs in Mexico. The American peregrine falcon continues to be protected
by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the taking, killing,
possession, transportation and importation of migratory birds, their
eggs, parts and nests except when specifically authorized by the Department
of the Interior.
NOTE TO EDITORS: For life history information and photos of peregrine falcons go to http://endangered.fws.gov/peregrin.html
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
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