ACADIA NAT’L PARK — With the return of peregrine falcons to nesting territories on the cliffs at the Precipice, Jordan Pond and Valley Cove, park officials have temporarily closed hiking trails in those areas.
They said in a press release that park staff has observed adult falcons at those sites “engaging in courtship and pre-nesting behavior, signaling the birds’ intentions to nest and raise chicks during the spring and early summer.”
As it has each spring in recent years, the park has closed the Precipice Trail, Jordan Cliffs Trail, Valley Cove Trail and a section of the Orange & Black Path to keep the falcons from being disturbed.
“Research has shown that nesting peregrine falcons are particularly vulnerable to human activities, which can disturb the adults and make them less attentive to the eggs or chicks,” according to park officials. “Human activities near a nesting area can lead to temporary or permanent abandonment of the nest by the adults.”
Trails will reopen after the young falcons have fledged, which is usually by mid-July. A trail could be opened sooner if it is determined that nesting attempts at a particular site have failed.
The Valley Cove Trail has been closed year-round for repairs since 2016. But park officials said it might be ready to re-open when the peregrine-prompted closure is lifted.
Peregrines have returned to Acadia earlier this year than they have in some previous years. Last year, the trails weren’t closed until April 13.
More than 140 peregrine chicks have fledged from cliffs in Acadia since the first are known to have hatched here in 1991.
“The success of peregrine falcon nesting in Acadia National Park is one of our great conservation stories,” Superintendent Kevin Shneider said.
Eight falcon chicks hatched and fledged in Acadia last year, four of them at Valley Cove Cliffs. It was the first year since 2007 that adult falcons failed to nest at the Precipice.
Peregrines were placed on the federal endangered species list in 1970. But since the pesticide DDT was banned two years later, their numbers have steadily increased across North America and the species is no longer considered endangered.