Falcons prompt trail closure on MDI

Posted March 29, 2012, at 8 p.m.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Citing nesting activity by peregrine falcons, park officials have closed part of the park near the birds’ territory.

The falcons are defending a nesting site near Beech Cliffs, park officials indicated Wednesday in a prepared statement. Peregrine falcons are listed as an endangered species under the Maine Endangered Species Act, according to Acadia officials.

To protect the birds from being disturbed or harassed, areas in and around the cliffs, located near Beech Mountain on the west side of Mount Desert Island, are being closed to visitors and operational activities. The closure does not include the Beech Cliff Ladder or Beech Cliff Loop trails.

If the birds do lay one or more eggs and hatch chicks, the area will remain closed until approximately five weeks after all the chicks take their first flights from the nest. In that case, the closed areas around Beech Cliffs would be reopened this summer in late July or early August. The closed areas could be opened sooner if park biologists determine that the nesting attempt turns out to be unsuccessful.

Park officials say nesting falcons are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance, which can lead to chick mortality and slow recovery of the species in Maine. Peregrine falcons have raised more than 20 chicks at Beech Cliff since 1995.

Acadia officials also have closed trails on the east faces of Champlain and St. Sauveur mountains because of nesting behavior by other falcons on those areas.

More information on closures or other aspects of Acadia can be found on the park’s official website: http://www.nps.gov/acad.

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