May 21, 2007

Vt. Closes 8 Cliffs to Protect Falcons

WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) - Cliffs and trails leading to them have been closed in eight areas around Vermont to protect nesting peregrine falcons.

The areas will remain closed until Aug. 1 unless a falcon pair does not nest or they're unsuccessful at nesting, the Fish and Wildlife Department said.

"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 Doug Blodgett, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Department. "In many cases the lower portions of the trails are still open. Signs are posted at the trailhead or along the trail indicating which areas are off limits."

The areas that are closed for now are:

- Nichols Ledge in Woodbury, access to any part of the cliff.

- Fairlee Palisades in Fairlee, access to any part of the cliff.

- Deer Leap in Bristol, access to any part of the cliff.

- Bolton Notch in Bolton, trail below cliff is open, but cliff access is closed.

- Rattlesnake Point in Salisbury, southern overlook is closed, western overlook is open.

- Mount Horrid in Goshen and Rochester, access to any part of the cliff is closed, but Great Cliff lookout is open.

- Snake Mountain in Addison, cliff top south of pond is closed, all trails are open.

- Smugglers' Notch in Cambridge, Elephant's Head area is closed.

The Fish and Wildlife Department will update whether any of the areas have been reopened on its Web site, , and can be reached by telephone at (802) 241-3700. The department also encouraged people to report peregrine sightings to Blodgett by telephone or e-mail at  

Peregrine falcons were virtually wiped out by the mid-1900s, largely by pesticides that caused reproductive failure, the Fish and Wildlife Department said. But the birds have been restored and the state now cooperates with the National Wildlife Federation and the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences to monitor and protecting nesting sites. That has succeeded over the past 20 years at restoring the falcons' population.