Cliff Tops and Overlooks Closed to Protect Nesting Falcons

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Adult Peregrine Falcon on a ledge in Fairlee, Vermont. / © Steve Faccio

Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a 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 are currently closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.

“Peregrine nesting is well underway 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 maintain a respectful distance from all nests.  These closures help people to choose an alternative route in advance.”

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department partners with Audubon Vermont to monitor the sites throughout the nesting season. You can add your sightings to Vermont eBird to help too. These sites will remain closed until August 1 or until the department determines the risk to nesting falcons has passed. Additional sites may be added to the closed list if nesting falcons choose new sites.

Closed Sites

  • Barnet Roadcut (Barnet) – Rte 5 pullout closed
  • Bolton Notch “Upper Upper West” (Bolton) – cliff closed to climbing
  • Bone Mt (Bolton) – areas of cliff closed to climbing
  • Deer Leap (Bristol) – cliff-top closed
  • -Eagle Ledge (Vershire) – cliff closed
  • -Fairlee Palisades (Fairlee) – cliff-top closed
  • -Hazens Notch (Lowell) – cliff closed to climbing
  • -Marshfield Mt (Marshfield) – areas closed to climbing
  • -Mt Horrid (Brandon) – Great Cliff overlook closed
  • -Nichols Ledge (Woodbury) – cliff-top closed
  • -Rattlesnake Pt (Salisbury) – cliff-top closed
  • -Snake Mt (Addison) – area south of pond at top is 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, and we encourage people to get out with good binoculars or a scope to enjoy watching the birds from a distance.  We will update the closure list as more nesting data are reported.”

Last year saw a record nesting season for Vermont’s peregrine falcons, with more than 79 young birds successfully growing up and leaving the nest.  “The peregrine’s recovery is a great success story,” said Margaret Fowle, Audubon Vermont Conservation Biologist.  “The population continues to do well 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 state 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.”

What you can do to help Vermont Peregrine Falcons

Updated information on cliff closures is listed on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department or by calling 802-828-1000.

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