ADDISON COUNTY — Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a warm spring day, but the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont recommend you check to see if the area you’re planning to hike or climb is open. Several cliff areas — including four in Addison County — are currently closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.
“Peregrine nesting is well under way this spring,” said John Buck, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department biologist. “The falcons are very sensitive to human presence so we ask climbers and hikers to please observe a respectful distance from the nests. The closures help people to choose an alternative route in advance.”
The local areas closed are:
• Deer Leap in Bristol — closed.
• Mt. Horrid in Goshen — Great Cliff overlook closed.
• Rattlesnake Point in Salisbury — cliff top closed.
• Snake Mountain in Addison and Weybridge — overlook south of pond closed.
“The areas closed include the portions of the cliffs where the birds are nesting and the trails leading to the cliff tops or overlooks,” said Buck. “In many cases the lower portions of the trails are still open. We will update the closure list as more nesting data are reported.”
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department partners with Audubon Vermont to monitor the sites throughout the nesting season. These sites will remain closed until Aug. 1, but if a falcon pair doesn’t nest or if the nest is not successful, the sites will be reopened sooner.
According to Margaret Fowle with Audubon Vermont, at least 39 peregrine falcon pairs nested in Vermont in 2012, producing at least 60 young falcons that fledged. ”The peregrine’s recovery is a great success story,” said Fowle. “The population continues to grow and thrive, thanks to the efforts of our many volunteers and partners.”
“We appreciate the public’s support in respecting the cliff closures,” said Buck. “The peregrine falcon was removed from the endangered species list in 2005 due, in part, to people respecting the falcon’s nesting period. Continued respect for the falcon will help ensure that peregrines remain part of Vermont’s landscape.”