Thursday, June 18, 2009

Peregrine falcon delisted as an endangered species in Florida

 FWC News Release:


Peregrine falcon delisted as an endangered species


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved removal of the peregrine falcon from the state's list of endangered species on Wednesday.

"Today is a time to celebrate peregrine falcons," said Rodney Barreto, FWC chairman. "This is a tremendous success story."

Through the efforts of wildlife managers and individuals, the peregrine falcon has become one of the best examples of how wise conservation practices can assist a species to come back from the brink of extinction. DDT usage in the United States nearly wiped out entire populations of birds decades ago, including the peregrine falcon. Fortunately, before the peregrine falcon became extinct, the use of DDT was eliminated.

As a result of pesticide regulations and captive breeding-and-release efforts, the peregrine falcon made a dramatic comeback from precipitously low numbers in the 1970s. Peregrine populations dropped from about 20,000 birds prior to the 1940s to 650 birds in 1965. Of the two populations of peregrine falcon that pass through Florida, there are now at least 3,100 breeding pairs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the species in 1999.

Whenever the FWC delists a species, a management plan must be in place, with guidelines to ensure the continued conservation of the species. The Commission also approved the final Peregrine Falcon Management Plan on Wednesday. The peregrine will still be protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

"The peregrine falcon is a success story showing what well-coordinated conservation can accomplish for a species," said Robin Boughton, the FWC's peregrine falcon management plan leader. "The management plan ensures the continued success of peregrine falcons."

The approved plan acknowledges that pesticide contamination is an ongoing threat throughout much of the wintering range of the species because many South and Central American countries lack the pesticide regulations that have been enacted in the United States. While peregrines do not breed in Florida, they are commonly seen in the state. Many peregrines migrate through in the fall and some may stay here during the winter. The plan's objectives stress the need to ensure coastal habitats, particularly those in the middle Keys, are preserved.

The Commission will consider allowing peregrines to be used for falconry when it meets again in September in Howey-in-the-Hills.

The peregrine falcon is known as the world's fastest bird, averaging 25-34 mph during normal flight and reaching speeds in excess of 150 mph during dives for prey, which include doves and ducks.

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