RUTLAND, Vt. – It’s an exciting time of year as migratory birds return to Vermont to nest and raise their young. Peregrine falcons have already returned to their nesting cliffs and can be seen throughout the state. Please remember that even as we find new ways to social distance, we all still need to respect important habitat and the closures that have helped the peregrine return to our forests.
Forest Service officials in Vermont will continue with seasonal closures at two prominent cliff sites on the Green Mountain National Forest’s Rochester and Middlebury Ranger District. These areas will be temporarily closed in order to prevent disturbance to critical nesting habitat. Peregrine falcon populations suffered declines due to the use of DDT in the 1940s but have rebounded since their reintroduction in the 1980s. Even though peregrines are now considered a recovered species in Vermont, it is critical to minimize human disturbance to nest sites so that the species’ recovery continues.
Each spring the Forest Service closes the Rattlesnake Cliff Area and the Mount Horrid and Great Cliff Area from March 15 through Aug. 1. Information regarding the specific locations for the closure areas is available at Forest Service offices. Forest Service employees post signs to alert the public to let them know trails to the cliff overlooks are closed.
Disturbance of peregrine falcons or these nesting grounds is a violation of federal law and may result in a fine up to $5,000 and six months in jail. Please report any harassment of nesting peregrine falcons to 1-800-75ALERT.
The Forest Service works with Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other nonprofit organizations to protect peregrine falcons.